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THE PENGUIN POETS 

PATERSON 



William Carlos Williams, the poet, novelist and playwright, was 
born in 1883 in Rutherford, New Jersey. After Swiss, Parisian 
and New York schools he studied medicine at Pennsylvania 
University, and later in New York and Leipzig. He settled as a 
G.P. in Rutherford in 1909, the year of his first book, Poems. An 
early friend of Ezra Pound's, he was deeply influenced by 
Imagism, and this is reflected in Poems and The Tempers (1913). 
But he soon began to launch his own campaign to 'create 
somehow by intense, individual effort, a new -an American - 
poetic language*. In 1920 he wrote, Til write whatever I damn 
please, whenever I damn please, and as I damn please 

In 1926 he was given the Dial award for distinguished service 
to American literature and received two posthumous awards, the 
Gold Medal for Poetry of the National Institute of Arts and 
Letters and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (for Pictures from 
Brueghel and Other Poems). He wrote Paterson in five volumes 
between 1946 and 1958, the third volume of which won the first 
National Book Award for Poetry in 1950. The poem has been 
widely praised as a masterpiece since the appearance of the first 
volume in 1946. His other work includes Kora in Hell (1920), 
Spring and All (1 923), Collected Later Poems (1950), the trilogy 
of novels, White Mule, In the Money and The Build- Up 
(1937-52), and In the American Grain (1925), a prose account of 
the Americanness of America told through the works and lives of 
explorers and writers. His Selected Essays (1954) and Selected 
Letters (1957) contain his criticism and a commentary on his 
creative life, and A Voyage to Pagany (1928) and the 
Autobiography (1951) provide some account of his personal life 
and opinions. 

He died in 1963. 




PENGUIN BOOKS 



Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England 
Penguin Books, 40 West 23rd Street, New York, New York 10010, U.S.A. 
Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia 
Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 2801 John Street, Markharh, Ontario, Canada L3R 1B4 
Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road, Auckland 10, New Zealand 

First published in one volume by New Directions Books 1 963 
Published in Penguin Books 1983 

Copyright 1 © W.C Williams, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958 
Copyright© Florence Williams, 1963 
AH rights reserved 

Grateful acknowledgment is made for the following quotations: from Realty The 
Blues by Mezz Mezzrow and Bernard Wolfe. Copyright 1946 by Milton Mezzrow and 
Bernard Wolf. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.; and from Poems 
1 923 - 1954 by E. E. Cummings, copyright © 1 950 by E. E. Cummings, published 
by Harcourt, Brace and Company. 

Portions oiPaterson Knave appeared previously in Art News, The Nation, Poems in 
Folio and Spectrum, to which grateful acknowledgment is given. 

The Sappho translation by William Carlos Williams, copyright © 1957 by Poems in 

Folio. 

For permisson to reprint a portion of the Mike Wallace interview in which William 
Carlos Williams appeared, the author and publisher wish to express thanks to The 

New York Post. 

Acknowledgment is also made to Donald C. Gallup, Curator, Collection of American 
Literature, Yale University Library, and to Hugh Kenner for assistance with the texts. 

Made and printed in Singapore by 
Richard Clay (S. E. Asia) Pte Limited 



Except in the United States of America, 
this book is sold subject to the condition 
that it shall nof, by way of trade or otherwise, 
■be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated 
without the publisher's prior consent in any form of 
binding or cover other than that in which it is 
published and without a similar condition 
including this condition being imposed 
on the subsequent purchaser 



AUTHOR'S NOTE 



Paterson is a long poem in four parts — that a man in 
himself is a city, beginning, seeking v achieving and con- 
cluding his life in ways which the various aspects of a 
city may embody— if imaginatively conceived — any city, 
all the details of which may be made to voice his most 
intimate convictions. Part One introduces the elemental 
character of the place. The Second Part comprises the 
modern replicas. Three will seek a language to make them 
vocal, and Four, the river below the falls, will be remi- 
niscent of episodes — all that any one man may achieve in 
a lifetime. 

Dr. Williams originally planned that Paterson would con- 
sist of four "Books," and the above note, his "Argument" 
for the poem, appeared in the first edition of Book i in 
1946. Books 2, 3 and 4 were published in 1948, i 949 and 
%9$i respectively. "Book 5 was published in 1958; some- 
what earlier, Dr. Williams had written about it to the 
publisher as follows: 

u [since completing Paterson, Four] I have come to under- 
stand not only that many changes have occurred in me 
and the world, but I have been forced to recognize that 
there can be no end to such a story I have envisioned with 
the terms which I had laid down for myself. I had to 
take the world of Paterson into a new dimension if I 
wanted to give it imaginative validity. Yet I wanted to 
keep it whole, as it is to me. As I mulled the thing over 
in my mind the composition began to assume a form 
•which you see in the present poem, keeping, I fondly 
'hope, a unity directly continuous with the Paterson of 
Pat. 1 to 4. Let's hope I have succeeded in doing so." 

Toward the end of i960 and in the early months of 1961, 
Dr. Williams was writing to the publisher of his plans 




r, but illness prevented 

notes and drafts for Book 6 
)e poet } s papers after his death and 
these have been added as an appendix at the end of this 

edition. 

We add here y for their interest in giving the genesis of 
the poem, the first three pages from Chapter $8 of Wil- 
liams *s Autobiography: 

THE POEM PATERSON 

Even though the greatest boon a poet grants the world is 
to reveal that secret and sacred presence, they will not 
know what he is talking about. Surgery cannot assist him, 
nor cures. The surgeon must himself know that his sur- 
gery is idle. But the object of this continuous scribbling 
comes to him also, I can see by his eyes that he acknowl- 
edges it. 

That is why I started to write Paterson: a man is indeed 
a city, and for the poet there are no ideas but in things. 
But the critics would have it that I, the 

fecting to write poems in their very zeal as 
all depends on what you call profound. For I acknowl- 
edge it would, in dealing with man and city, require one 
to go to some depth in the form for the purpose. 

The thinkers, the scholars, thereupon propound ques- 
tions upon the nature of verse, answering themselves or 
at least creating tension between thoughts. They think, 
and to think, they believe, is to be profound. A curious 
idea, if what they think is profitable to their thinking 
they are rewarded — as thinkers. 

But who, if he chose, could not touch the bottom of 
thought? The poet does not, however, permit himself to 
go beyond the thought to be discovered in the context of 




that with which he is dealing: no ideas but in things. The 
poet thinks with his poem, in that lies his thought, and 
that in itself is the profundity. The thought is Paterson, 
to be discovered there. 

Therefore the thinker tries to capture the poem for his 
purpose, using his "thought" as the net to put his thoughts 
into. Absurd. They are not profound enough to discover 
that by this they commit a philosophic solecism. They 
have jumped the track, slipped out of category; no matter 
what the thought or the value, the poem will be bad, to 
make a pigeon roar. 

The first idea centering upon the poem, Paterson, came 
alive early: to find an image large enough to embody the 
whole knowable world about me. The longer I lived in 
my place, among the details of my life, I realized that 
these isolated observations and experiences needed pulling 

\ together to gain "profundity." I already had the river. 

Flossie is always astonished when she realizes that we live 
on a river, that we are a river town. New York Qty was 
far out of my perspective; I wanted, if I was to write in 

Ka larger way than of the birds and flowers, to write about 
the people close about me: to know in detail, minutely 

v what I was talking about — to the whites of their eyes, 

,10 their very smells. 

r That is the poet's business. Not to talk in vague cate- 
gories but to write particularly, as a physician works, 
upon a patient, upon the thing before him, in the partic- 
5$fer to discover the universal. John Dewey had said (I dis- 
covered it quite by chance), "The local is the only uni- 
versal, upon that all art builds." Keyserling had said the 
|||aane in different words. I had no wish, nor did I have 
ipfe opportunity to know New York in that way, and I 
Ijfclt no loss in that. 

P I thought of other places upon the Passaic River, but, 
f in the end, the city, Paterson, with its rich colonial his- 
tory, upstream, where the water was less heavily polluted, 
k won out. The falls, vocal, seasonally vociferous, associated 




with many of the ideas upon which our fiscal 
policy shaped us through Alexander Hamilton, interested 
me profoundly — and, what has resulted the* 
today a fruitful locale for study. I 
I had heard, I had taken part in some of the incidents that 
made up the place. I had heard Billy Sunday: I had talked 
With John* Reed: I had in my hospital experiences got to 
know many of the women: I had tramped Garret Moun- 
tain as a youngster, swum in its ponds, appeared in court 
there, looked at its charred ruins, its flooded streets, read 
of its past in Nelson's history of Paterson, read of the 




my "case" to work up, really to work 
it up. It called for a poetry such as I did not know, it was 
my duty to discover or make such a context on the 
"thought." To make a poem, fulfilling the requirements 
of the art, and yet new, in the sense that in the very lay 
of the syllables Paterson as Paterson would be discovered, 
perfect, perfect in the special sense of the poem, to have 
to flutter into life awhile — it would be as it- 
so like every other place in the world. 
For it is in that, that it be particular to its own idiom, 
that it lives. r 

The Falls let out a roar as it crashed upon thft rocks 
at its base. In the imagination this roar is a speech or a 
voice, a speech in particular; it is the poem itself that is 
the answer. 
In the end the man rises 





inland toward Camden where Walt Whitman, much tra- 
duced, lived the latter years of his life and died* He al- 
ways said that his poems, which had broken the domi- 
nance of the iambic pentameter in English prosody, had 
only begun his theme. I agree- It is up to us, in the new 
dialect, to continue it by a new construction upon the 



Book One 

■ 



: a local pride; spring, summer, fall and the sea; a confes- 
sion; a basket; a column; a reply to Greek and Latin with 
the hare hands; a gathering up; a celebration; 

in distinctive terms; by multiplication a reduction to 
one; daring; a fall; the clouds resolved into a sandy sluice; 
an enforced pause; 

hard put to it; an identification and a plan for action 
to supplant a plan for action; a taking up of slack; a dis- 
a metamorphosis. 



2 



Paterson 



Preface 

"Rigor of beauty is the quest. But how will you find beauty 
when it is locked in the mind past all remonstrance?" 

To make a start, 

put of particulars 

and make them general, rolling 

up the sum, by defective means — 

Sniffing the trees, 

just another dog 

among a lot of dogs. What 

else is there? And to do? 

The .rest-have run out — 

after the rabbits. 

Only the lame stands— on 

three legs. Scratch front and back. 

Deceive and eat. Dig 

a musty bone 

- 

For the beginning is assuredly 

the end — since we know nothing, pure 

and simple, beyond 

our own complexities. 

Yet there is 
no return: rolling up out of chaos, 
a nine months' wonder, the city 
the man, an identity — it can't be 
otherwise — an 

interpenetration, both ways. Rolling 



3 



up! obverse, reverse; 

the drunk the sober; the illustrious 

the gross; one. In ignorance 

a certain knowledge and knowledge, 

undispersed, its own undoing. 

(The multiple seed, 
packed tight with detail, soured, 
is lost in the flux and the mind, 
distracted, floats off in the same 
scum) 

Rolling up, rolling up heavy with 
numbers. 

It is the ignorant sun 
rising in the slot of 
hollow suns risen, so that never in this 
world will a man live well in his body 
save dying — and not know himself 
dying; yet that is 
the design. Renews himself 
thereby, in addition and subtraction, 
walking up and down. 

and the craft, 
subverted by thought, rolling up, let 
him beware lest he turn to no more than 
the writing of stale poems . . . 
Minds like beds always made up, 

(more stony than a shore) 
unwilling or unable. 



Rolling in, top up, 
under, thrust and recoil, a great clatter: 
lifted as air, boated, multicolored, a 
wash of seas — 

from mathematics to particulars- 
divided as the dew, 
floating mists, to be rained down and 
regathered into a river that flows 
and encircles: 

shells and animalcules 
generally and so to man, 



to Paterson. 



The Delineaments of the Giants 



I 



Paterson lies in the valley under the Passaic Falls 
its spent waters forming the outline of his back. He 
lies on his right side, head near the thunder 
of the waters filling his dreams! Eternally asleep, 
his dreams walk about the city where he persists 
incognito. Butterflies settle on his stone ear. 
Immortal he-neither moves nor rouses and is seldom 
seen, though he breathes and the subtleties of his 
machinations 

drawing their substance from the noise of the pouring 
river 

animate a thousand automatons. Who because they 
neither know their sources nor the sills of their 
disappointments walk outside their bodies aimlessly 

for the most part, 
locked and forgot in their desires — unroused. 

— Say it, no ideas but in things- 
nothing but the blank faces of the houses 
and cylindrical trees 

bent, forked by preconception and accident- 
split, furrowed, creased, mottled, stained — 
secret— into the body of the light! 

From above, higher than the spires, higher 
even than the office towers, from oozy fields 
abandoned to grey beds of dead grass, 
black sumac, withered weed-stalks, 
mud and thickets cluttered with dead leaves — 



6 



the river comes pouring in above the city 
and crashes from the edge of the gorge 
in a recoil of spray and rainbow mists— 

(What common language to unravel? 

. . combed into straight lines 
from that rafter of a rock's 

lip.) 

A man like a city and a woman like a 
— who are in love. Two women. Three women. 
Innumerable women, each like a flower. 

But 

only one man— like a city. 

In regard to the poems I left with you; will you be so kind as to 
return them to me at my new address? And without bothering to 
comment upon them if you should find that embarrassing — for it 
was the human situation and not the literary one that motivated 
my phone call and visit. 

Besides, I know myself to be more the woman than the poet; and 
to concern myself less with the publishers of poetry than with . . « 
living ... 

But they set up an investigation . . . and my doors are bolted 
forever (I hope forever) against all public welfare workers, profes- 
sional do-gooders and the like. 

Jostled as are the waters approaching 
the brink, his thoughts 
interlace, repel and cut under, 
rise rock-thwarted and turn aside 
but forever strain forward — or strike 
an eddy and whirl, marked by a 
leaf or curdy spume, seeming 
to forget 

Retake later the advance and 

are replaced by succeeding hordes 



7 



pushing forward— they coalesce now 

glass-smooth with their swiftness, 

quiet or seem to quiet as at the close 

they leap to the conclusion and 

fall, fall in air! as if 

floating, relieved of their weight, 

split apart, ribbons; dazed, drunk 

with the catastrophe of the descent 

floating unsupported 

to hit the rocks: to a thunder, 

as if lightning had struck 

All lightness lost, weight regained in 
the repulse, a fury of 
escape driving them to rebound 
upon those coming after- 
keeping nevertheless to the stream, they 
retake their course, the air full 
of the tumult and of spray 
connotative of the equal air, coeval, 
filling the void 

And there, against him, stretches the low mountain. 

The Park's her head, carved, above the Falls, by the quiet 

river; Colored^ crystals the secret of those rocks; 

farms and ponds, laurel and the temperate wild cactus, 

yellow flowered . . facing him, his 

arm supporting her, by the Valley of the Rocks, asleep. 

Pearls at her ankles, her monstrous hair 

spangled with apple-blossoms is scattered about into 

the back country, waking their dreams — where the deer run 

and the wood-duck nests protecting his gallant plumage* 

In February 1857, David Hower, a poor shoemaker with a large 
family, out of work and money, collected a lot of mussels from 
Notch Brook near the City of Paterson* He found in eating them 



many hard substances. At first he threw them away but at last sub- 
mitted some of them to a jeweler who gave him twenty-five to 
thirty dollars for the lot. Later he found others. One pearl of fine 
lustre was sold to Tiffany for $900 and later to the Empress Eugenie 
for $2,000 to be known thenceforth as the "Queen Pearl/* the finest 
of its sort in the world today. 

News of this sale created such excitement that search for the 
pearls was started throughout the country. The Unios (mussels) at 
Notch Brook and elsewhere were gathered by the millions and 
destroyed often with little or no result. A large round pearl, weigh- 
ing 400 grains which would have been the finest pearl of modern 
times, was ruined by boiling open the shell. 

Twice a month Paterson receives 
communications from the Pope and Jacques 

Barzun 
(Isocrates). His works 
have been done into French 
and Portuguese. And clerks in the post- 
office ungum rare stamps from 
his packages and steal them for their 
childrens' albums 

Say it! No ideas but in things. Air. 
Paterson has gone away 
to rest and write. Inside the bus one sees 
his thoughts sitting and standing. His 
thoughts alight and scatter — 

Who are these people (how complex 

the mathematic) among whom I see myself 

in the regularly ordered plateglass of 

his thoughts, glimmering before shoes and bicycles? 

They walk incommunicado, the 

equation is beyond solution, yet 

its sense is clear — that they may live 

his thought is listed in the Telephone 

Directory- 



f 



And derivatively, for the Great Falls, 
PISS- AGH! the giant lets fly! good Muncie, too 

They craved the miraculous! 

A gentleman of the Revolutionary Army, after describing the 
Falls, thus describes another natural curiosity then existing in the 
community: In the afternoon we were invited to visit another curi- 
osity in the neighborhood. This is a monster in human form, he is 
twenty-seven years of age, his face from the upper part of his fore- 
head to the end of his chin, measures twenty-seven inches, and 
around the upper part of his head is twenty-one inches: his eyes 
and nose are remarkably large and prominent, chin long and 
pointed. His features are coarse, irregular and disgusting, his voice 
rough and sonorous. His body is twenty-seven inches in length, his 
limbs are small and much deformed, and he has the use of one 
hand only. He has never been able to sit up, as he cannot support 
the enormous weight of his head; but he is constantly in a large 
cradle, with his head supported in pillows. He is visited by great 
numbers of people, and is peculiarly fond of the company of clergy- 
men, always inquiring for them among his visitors, and taking great 
pleasure in receiving religious instruction. General Washington 
made him a visit, and asked "whether he was a Whig or a Tory." 
He replied that he had never taken an active part on either side. 

A wonder! A wonder! 

From the ten houses Hamilton saw when he looked (at the falls! ) 
and kept his counsel, by the middle of the century — the mills had 
drawn a heterogeneous population. There were in 1870, native born 
20,711, which would of course include children of foreign parents; 
foreign 12,868 of whom 237 were French, 1420 German, 3,343 
English — (Mr. Lambert who later built thqi Castle among them), 
5,124 Irish, 879 Scotch, 1,360 Hollanders and 170 Swiss — 

Around the falling waters the Furies hurl! 
Violence gathers, spins in their heads summoning 
them: 

The twaalft, or striped bass was also abundant, and even sturgeon, 
of a huge bigness, were frequently caught: — On Sunday, August 



10 



ji, i8i7» one seven feet six inches long, and weighing 126 pounds, 
was captured a short distance below the Falls basin. He was pelted 
with stones by boys until he was exhausted, whereupon one of them, 
John Winters, waded into the water and clambered on the back of 
the huge fish, while another seized him by the throat and gills, and 

brought him ashore. The Berzen Express and Paterson Advertiser 
of YVednesday, September 3, 181 7, devoted half a column to an 

account of the incident, under the heading, "The Monster Taken," 

They begin! 
The perfections are sharpened 
The flower spreads its colored petals 

wide in the sun 
But the tongue of the bee 

misses them 
They sink back into the loam 

crying out 
— you may call it a cry 
that creeps over them, a shiver 

* as they wilt and disappear: 
Marriage come to have a shuddering 

implication 

Crying out 
or take a lesser satisfaction: 

a few go 
to the Coast without gain — 
The language is missing them 

they die also 

incommunicado. 

The language, the language 

fails, them 
They do not know the words 

or have not 
the courage to use them 

— girls from 



11 



families that have decayed and 
taken to the hills: no words. » 

They may look at the torrent in 

their minds 

and it is foreign to them. . 

They turn their backs 

and grow faint — but recover! 

Life is sweet 
they say: the language! 

— the language 
is divorced from their minds, 
the language . * the language! 

If there was not beauty, there was a strangeness and a bold as- 
sociation of wild and cultured life grew up together in the Ra- 
mapos: two phases. 

In the hills, where the brown trout slithered among the shallow 
stones, Ringwood — where the old Ryerson farm had been — among 
its velvet lawns, was ringed with forest trees, the butternut, and 
the elm, the white oak, the chestnut and the beech, the birches, the 
tupelo, the sweet-gum, the wild cherry and the hackleberry with its 
red tumbling fruit. 

While in the forest clustered the ironworkers' cabins, the char- 
coal burners, the lime kiln workers — hidden from lovely Ringwood 
— where General Washington, gracing any poem, up from Pomp- 
ton for rest after the traitors' hangings could be at ease — and the 
links were made for the great chain across the Hudson at West 
Point. 

Violence broke out in Tennessee, a massacre by the Indians, hang- 
ings and exile — standing there on the scaffold waiting, sixty of them. 
The Tuscaroras, forced to leave their country, were invited'by the 
Six Nations to join them in Upper New York. The bucks went on 
ahead but some of the women and the stragglers got no further than 
the valley-cleft near Suffern. They took to the mountains there 
where they were joined by Hessian deserters from the British 
Army, a number of albinos among them, escaped negro slaves and 

a lot of women and their brats released in New York City after die 
British had been forced to leave. They had them in a pen there- 
picked up in Liverpool and elsewhere by a man named Jackson 



12 



tinder contract with the British Government to provide women 
for the soldiers in America* 

The mixture ran in the woods and took the general name, Jack- 
jon's Whites. (There had been some blacks also, mixed in, some 
"West Indian negresses, a ship-load, to replace the whites lost when 
their ship, one of six coming from England, had foundered in a 
Storm at sea. He had to make it up somehow and that was the 
quickest and cheapest way.) 

New Barbadoes Neck, the region was called. 

Cromwell, in the middle of the seventeenth century, shipped some 
thousands of Irish women and children to the Barbadoes to be sold 
as slaves. Forced by their owners to mate with the others these un- 
fortunates were succeeded by a few generations of Irish-speaking 
negroes and mulattoes. And it is commonly asserted to this day the 
natives of Barbadoes speak with an Irish brogue. 

I remember 
a Geographic picture, the 9 women 
of some African chief semi-naked 
astraddle a log, an official log to 
be presumed, heads left: 

Foremost 
froze the young and latest, 
erect, a proud queen, conscious of her power, 
mud-caked, her monumental hair 
slanted above the brows — violently frowning. 

Behind her, packed tight up 
in a descending scale of freshness 
stiffened the others 

and then . * 
the last, the first wife, 
present! supporting all the rest growing 
up from her — whose careworn eyes 
serious, menacing — but unabashed; breasts 
sagging from hard use . . 



13 



Whereas the uppointed breasts 
of that other, tense, charged with 
pressures unrelieved 
and the rekindling they bespoke 
was evident. 

Not that the lightnings 
do not stab at the mystery of a man 
from both ends — and the middle, no matter 
how much a chief he may be, rather the more 
because of it, to destroy him at home 

Womanlike, a vague smile, 
unattached, floating like a pigeon 
after a long flight to his cote. 

Mrs. Sarah Cumming, consort of the Rev. Hopper Gumming, of 
Newark, was a daughter of the late Mr. John Emmons, of Pordand, 
in the district of Maine. . . . She had been married about two 
months, and was blessed with a flattering prospect of no common 
share of Temporal felicity and usefulness in the sphere which 
Providence had assigned her; but oh, how uncertain is the contin- 
uance of every earthly joy. 

On Saturday, the 20th of June, 1812, the Rev. Gumming rode 
with his wife to Paterson, in order to supply, by presbyterial ap- 
pointment, a destitute congregation in that place, on the following 
day. . . . On Monday morning, he went with his beloved com- 
panion to show her the falls of the Passaic, and the surrounding 
beautiful, wild and romantic scenery, — little expecting the solemn 
event to ensue. 

Having ascended the flight of stairs (the Hundred Steps) Mr. and 
Mrs. Cumming walked over the solid ledge to the vicinity of the 
cataract, charmed with the wonderful prospect, and making various 
remarks upon the stupendous works of nature around them. At 
length they took their station on the brow of the solid rock, which 
overhangs the basin, six or eight rods from the falling water, where 
thousands have stood before, and where there is a fine view of die 
sublime curiosities of the place. When they had enjoyed the luxury 
of the scene for a considerable length of time, Mr. Cumming said, 
"My dear, I believe it is time for us to set our face homeward"; and 
at the same moment, turned round in order to lead the way. He 



14 



instantly heard the voice of distress, looked back and his wife was 
gone! 

Mr. Cummirig's sensations on the distressing occasion may, in 
8$me measure, be conceived, but they cannot be described. He was 
on the borders of distraction, and, scarcely knowing what he did, 
would have plunged into the abyss, had it not been kindly ordered 
in providence that a young man should be near, who instantly flew 
to him, like a guardian angel, and held him from a step which his 
reason, at the time, could not have prevented. This young man led 
him from the precipice, and conducted him to the ground below the 
stairs. Mr. Cumming forced himself out of the hands of bis pro- 
tector, and ran with violence, in order to leap into the fatal flood. 
His young friend, however, caught him once more. . . . Immediate 
search was made, and diligently continued throughout the day, for 
the body of Mrs. Cumming; but to no purpose. On the following 
morning, her mortal part was found in a depth of 42 feet, and, the 
•same day, was conveyed to Newark. 

A false language. A true. A false language pouring— a 
language (misunderstood) pouring (misinterpreted) without 
dignity, without minister, crashing upon a stone ear. At least 
it settled it for her. Patch too, as a matter of fact. He 
became a national hero in '28, '29 and toured the country 
diving from cliffs and masts, rocks and bridges — to prove his 
thesis: Some things can be done as well as others. 



THE GRRRREAT HISTORY of that 

old time Jersey Patriot 

N. F. PATERSON! 

(N for Noah; F for Faitoute; P for short) 
"Jersey Lightning" to the boys. 

So far everything had gone smoothly. The pulley and ropes were 
tecurely fastened on each side of the chasm, and everything made 
in readiness to pull the clumsy bridge into position. It was a wooden 



15 



structure boarded up on both sides, and a roof . It was about two 
o'clock in the afternoon and a large crowd had gathered — a large 
crowd for that time, as the town only numbered about four thou- 
sand—to watch the bridge placed in position. 

That day was a great day for old Paterson. It being Saturday, the 
mills were shut down, so to give the people a chance to celebrate* 
Among those who came in for a good part of the celebration was 
Sam Patch, then a resident in Paterson, who was a boss over cotton 
spinners in one of the mills* He was my boss, and many a time he 
gave me a cuff over the ears. 

Well, this day the constables were on the look for Patch, because 
they thought he would be on a spree and cause trouble. Patch had 
declared so frequently that he would jump from the rocks that he 
was placed under arrest at various times. He had previously been 
locked up in the basement under the bank with a bad case of de- 
lirium tremens, but on the day the bridge was pulled across the 
chasm he was let out. Some thought he was crazy. They were not 
far wrong. 

But the happiest man in the town that day was Timothy B. Crane, 
who had charge of the bridge. Tim Crane was a hotel keeper and 
kept a tavern on the Manchester side of the Falls. His place was a 
great resort for circus men. Such famous circus men of the long 
ago as Dan Rice and James Cooke, the great bareback rider, visited 
him. 

Tim Crane built the bridge because his rival, Fyfield, who kept 
the tavern on the other side of the falls, was getting the benefit of 
the "Jacob's Ladder," as it was sometimes called — the "hundred 
steps," a long, rustic, winding stairs in the gorge leading to the 
opposite side of the river — it making his, place more easy to get 
to. . . . Crane was a very robust man over six feet tall. He wore 
side whiskers. He was well known to the other citizens as a man of 
much energy and no little ability. In his manner he resembled the 
large, rugged stature of Sam Patch. 

When the word was given to haul the bridge across the chasm, 
the crowd rent the air with cheers. But they had only pulled it half 
way over when one of the roiling pins slid from the ropes into the 
water below. 

While all were expecting to see the big, clumsy bridge topple 
over and land in the chasm, as quick as a flash a form leaped out 
from the highest point and struck with a splash in the dark water 
below, swam to the wooden pin and brought it ashore. This was 
the starting point of Sam Patch's career as a famous jumper. I saw 
that, said the old man with satisfaction, and I don't believe there is 



16 



another person in the town today who was an eye-witness of that 
scene. These were the words that Sam Patch said: "Now, old Tim 
Crane thinks he has done something great, but I can beat him." As he 
spoke he jumped. 

There's no mistake in Sam Patch! 

The water pouring still 
from the edge of the rocks, filling 
his ears with its sound, hard to interpret* 
A wonder! 

After this start he toured the West, his only companions a fox 
and a bear which he picked up in his travels. 

He jumped from a rocky ledge at Goat Island into the Niagara 
River. Then he announced that before returning to the Jerseys he 
was going to show the West one final marvel. He would leap 1 25 
feet from the falls of the Genesee River on November 13, 1829. 
Excursions came from great distances in the United States and 
even from Canada to see the wonder. 

A platform was built at the edge of the falls. He went to great 
trouble to ascertain the depth of the water below. He even suc- 
cessfully performed one practice leap. 

On the day the crowds were gathered on all sides. He appeared 
and made a short speech as he was wont to do. A speech! What 
could he say that he must leap so desperately to complete it? And 
plunged toward the stream below. But instead of descending with a 
plummet-like fall his body wavered in the air — Speech had failed 
him. He was confused. The word had been drained of its meaning. 
There's no mistake in Sam Patch. He struck the water on his side 
and disappeared. 

A great silence followed as the crowd stood spellbound. 

Not until the following spring was the body found frozen in an 
ice-cake. 

He threw his pet bear once from the cliff overlooking the Niagara 
rapids and rescued it after, down stream. 



17 



There is no direction. Whither? I 
cannot say. I cannot say 
more than how. The how (the howl) only 
is at my disposal (proposal) : watching — 
colder than stone . 

a bud forever green, 
tight-curled, upon the pavement, perfect 
in juice and substance but divorced, divorced 
from its fellows, fallen low— 

•i 

Divorce is 
the sign of knowledge in our time, 
divorce! divorce! 

with the roar of the river 
forever in our ears (arrears) 
inducing sleep and silence, the roar 
of eternal sleep • . challenging 
our waking — 

—unfledged desire, irresponsible, green, 
colder to the hand than stone, 
unready — challenging our waking: 

Two halfgrown girls hailing hallowed Easter, 
(an inversion of all out-of-doors) weaving 
about themselves, from under 
the heavy air, whorls of thick translucencies 
poured down, cleaving them away, 
shut from the light: bare- 
headed, their clear hair dangling— 



Two- 
disparate among the pouring 
waters of their hair in which nothing is 
molten — 

two, bound by an instinct to be the same: 

ribbons, cut from a piece, 

cerise pink, binding their hair: one- 

a willow twig pulled from a low 

leafless bush in full bud in her hand, 

(or eels or a moon! ) 

holds it, the gathered spray, 

upright in the air, the pouring air, 

strokes the soft fur — 

Ain't they beautiful! 

Certainly I am not a robin nor erudite, 

no Erasmus nor bird that returns to the same 

ground year by year. Or if I am 

the ground has undergone 

a subtle transformation, its identity altered. 

Indians! 

Why even speak of "I," he dreams, which 
interests me almost not at all? 

The theme 

is as it may prove: asleep, unrecognized- 
all of a piece, alone 

in a wind that does not move the others— 

in that way: a way to spend 

a Sunday afternoon while the green bush shakes. 



• t a mass of detail 

to interrelate on a new ground, difficultly; 

an assonance, a homologue 





pu 

and compress 

the river, 
and a white crane will fly 
and settle later! White, in 
the shallows among the blue-flowered 
pickerel-weed, in summer, summer! if it should 
ever come, in the shallow water! 

On the embankment a short, 
cone (juniper) 
:ically 

in the indifferent Rale: male— stands 



rooted there . 

The thought returns: Why have I not 

but for imagined beauty where there is none 

or none available, long since 

put myself deliberately in the way of death? 

Stale as a whale's breath: breath! 

Breath! 

Patch leaped but Mrs. Gumming shrieked 
and fell— unseen (though 

she had been standing there beside her husband half 
an hour or more twenty feet from the edge). 



: a body found next spring 

frozen in an ice-cake; or a body 

fished next day from the muddy swirl — 



both silent, uncommunicative 



Only of late, late! begun to know, to 
know clearly (as through clear ice) whence 
I draw my breath or how to employ it 
clearly — if not well: 

Clearly! 

speaks the red-breast his behest. Clearly! 
clearly! 

— and watch, wrapt! one branch 

of the tree at the falPs edge, one 

mottled branch, withheld, 

among the gyrate branches 

of the waist-thick sycamore, 

sway less, among the rest, separate, slowly 

with giraffish awkwardness, slightly 

on a long axis, so slightly 

as hardly to be noticed, in itself the tempest 

Thus 

the first wife, with giraffish awkwardness 
among thick lightnings that stab at 
die mystery of a man: in sum, a sleep, a 
source, a scourge 

on a log, her varnished hair 
trussed up like a termite's nest (forming 
the lines) and, her old thighs 
gripping the log reverently, that, 
all of a piece, holds up the others — 
alert: begin to know the mottled branch 
that sings . 



certainly NOT the university, 
a green bud fallen upon the pavement its 
sweet breath suppressed: Divorce (the 
language stutters) 

> 

unfledged: 

two sisters from whose open mouths 
Easter is born — crying aloud, 

Divorce! 

While 

the green bush sways: is whence 

I draw my breath, swaying, all of a piece, 

separate, livens briefly, for the moment 

unafraid 



Which is to- say, though it be poorly 
said, there is a first wife 

the stress to hold it there, innate 



a flower 



a flower- whose history 




among the ferny rocks, laughs at the names 

trap it. Escapes! 
but by lying still— 

A history that has, by its den in the 
rocks, bole and fangs, its own cane-brake 
whence, half hid, canes and stripes 
blending, it grins (beauty defied) 
not for the sake of the encyclopedia. 



Were we near enough its stinking breath 

would fell us. The temple upon 

the rock is its brother, whose majesty 

lies in jungles— rmade to spring, 

at the rifle-shot of learning: to kill 

and grind those bones: 

These terrible things they reflect: 

the snow falling into the water, 

part upon the rock, part in the dry weeds 

and part into the water where it 

vanishes— its form no longer what it was: 

the bird alighting, that pushes 

its feet forward to take up the impetus 

and falls forward nevertheless 

among the twigs. The weak-necked daisy 

bending to the wind 

The sun 

winding the yellow bindweed about a 
bush; worms and gnats, life under a stone. 
The pitiful snake with its mosaic skin 
and frantic tongue. The horse, the bull 
the whole din of fracturing thought 
as it falls tinnily to nothing upon the streets 
and the absurd dignity of a locomotive 
hauling freight — 

Pithy philosophies of 
dailv exits and entrances, with books 
propping up one end of the shaky table — 
The vague accuracies of events dancing two 
and two with language which they 
forever surpass — and dawns 
tangled in darkness— 



The giant in whose apertures we 
cohabit, unaware of what air supports 
us — the vague, the particular 
no less vague 

his thoughts, the stream 
and we, we two, isolated in the stream, 
we also: three alike — 

we sit and talk 
I wish to be with you abed, we two 
as if the bed were the bed of a stream 
— I have much to say to you 

We sit and talk, 
quietly, with long lapses of silence 
and I am aware of the stream 
that has no language, coursing 
beneath the quiet heaven of 
your eyes 

which has no speech; to 
go to bed with you, to pass beyond 
the moment of meeting, while the 
currents float still in mid-air, to 
fall— 

with you from the brink, before 
the crash — 

to seize the moment. 

We sit and talk, sensing a little 
the rushing impact of the giants' 
violent torrent rolling over us, a 
few moments. 

If I should demand it, as 
it has been demanded of others 



and given too swiftly, and you should 
consent. If you would consent 

We sit and talk and the 
silence speaks of the giants 
who have died in the past and have 
returned to those scenes unsatisfied 
and who is not unsatisfied, the 
silent, Singac the rock-shoulder 
emerging from the rocks — and the giants 
live again in your silence and 
unacknowledged desire — 

And the air lying over the water 

lifts the ripples, brother 

to brother, touching as die mind touches* 

counter-current, upstream 

brings in the fields, hot and cold 

parallel but never mingling, one that whirls 

backward at the brink and curls invisibly 

upward, fills the hollow, whirling, 

an accompaniment— -but apart, observant of 

the distress, sweeps down or up clearing 

the spray — 

brings in the rumors of separate 
worlds, the birds as against the fish, the grape 
to the green weed that streams out undulant 
with the current at low tide beside the 
bramble in blossom, die storm by the flood — 
song and wings — 

one unlike the other, twin 
of the other, conversant with eccentricities 
side by side, bearing the water-drops 
and snow, vergent, the water soothing the air when 
it drives in among the rocks fitfully — 



While at 1 0,000 feet, coming in over 
the sombre mountains of Haiti, the land-locked 
bay back of Port au Prince, blue vitreol 
streaked with paler streams, shabby as loose 
hair, badly dyed— like chemical waste 
mixed in, eating out the shores . • 

He pointed it down and struck the rough 
waters of the bay, hard; but lifted it again and 
coming^down gradually, hit again hard but 
remained down to taxi to the pier where 
they were waiting — 

(Thence Carlos had fled in the 70*s 
leaving the portraits of my grandparents, 
the furniture, the silver, even the meal 
hot upon the table before the Revolutionists 
coming in at the far end of the street.) 

I was over to see my mother today. My sister, "Billy," was at the 
schoolhouse. I never go when she is there. My mother had a sour 
stomach, yesterday. I found her in bed. However, she had helped 
"Billy" do up the work. My mother has always tried to do her part, 
and she is always trying to do something for her children. A few 
days before I left I found her starting to mend my trousers. I took 
them away from her and said, "Mother, you can't do that for me, 
with your crippled head. You know. I always get Louisa or Mrs. 
Tony to do that work for me." "Billy" looked up and said, "It's too 
bad about y6u." 

I have already told you I helped with the work, did dishes, three 
times daily, swept and mopped floors, porches and cleaned yards, 
mowed the lawn, tarred the roofs, did repair work and helped 
wash, brought in the groceries and carried out the pots and washed 
them each morning, even "Billy's" with dung in it, sometimes, and 
did other jobs and then it was not uncommon for "Billy" to say: 
"You don't do anything here." Once she even said, "I saw you out 
there the other morning sweeping porches, pretending you were 
doing something." 

Of course, "Billy" has been chopped on by the surgical chopper 
and has gone through the menopause and she had a stroke of facial 



26 



paralysis, but she has always been eccentric and wanted to boss. 
My Hartford sister said she used to run over her until she became 
big enough to throsh her. 1 have seen her slap her Husband square 
in the face. I would have knocked her so far she would not have 
got back in a week. She has run at me with a poker, etc., but I always 
told her not to strike* "Don't make that mistake*" I would always 
caution. 

"Billy" is a good worker and thorough going but she wants to lay 
blame — always on the other fellow. I told my buddie, in Hartford, 
she was just like our landlady, the pistol. He said he had a sister 
just like that. 

As to my mother, she is obsessed with fire. That's why she doesn't 
want me to stay there, alone, when she is dead. The children have 
all said for years, she thinks more of me man any child she has. 

T. 

They fail, they limp with corns. I 
think he means to kill me, I don't know 
what to do. He comes in after midnight, 
I pretend to be asleep. He stands there, 
I feel him looking down at me, I 
am afraid! 

Who? Who? Who? What? 
A summer evening? 

A quart of potatoes, half a dozen oranges, 
a bunch of beets and some soup greens. 
Look, I have a new set of teeth. Why you 
look ten years younger . 

But never, in despair and anxiety, 
forget to drive wit in, in till it discover 
his thoughts, decorous and simple, 
and never forget that though his thoughts 
are decorous and simple, the despair 
and anxiety: the grace and detail of 
a dynamo — 

So in his high decorum he is wise. 



27 



A delirium of solutions, forthwith, forces 
him into back streets, to begin again: 
up hollow stairs among acrid smells 
to obscene rendezvous. And there he finds 
a festering sweetness of red lollipops — 
and a yelping dog: 

Come YEAH, Chichi! Or a great belly 
that no longer laughs but mourns 
with its expressionless black navel love's 
deceit • 

They are the divisions and imbalances 
of his whole concept, made weak by pity, 
flouting desire; they are — No ideas but 
in the facts 

I positively feel no rancour against you, but will urge you toward 
those vapory ends, and implore you to submit to your own myths, 
and that any postponement in doing so is a lie for you. Delay makes 
us villainous and cheap: All that I can say of myself and of others 
is that it matters not so much how a man lies or f ornicates or even 
loves money, provided that he has not a Pontius Pilate but an 
hungered Lazarus in his intestines. Once Plotinus asked, "What is 
philosophy?" and he replied, "What is most important." The late 
Miguel de Unamuno also cried out, not "More light, more light! " 
as Goethe did when he was dying, but "More warmth, more 
warmth!" I hate more than anything else the mocking stone bowels 
of Pilate; I abhor that more than cozening and falsehoods and the 
little asps of malice that are on all carnal tongues. That is why I am 
attacking you, as you put it, not because I think you cheat or lie 
for pelf, but because you lie and chafe and gull whenever you see 
a jot of the tonr Galilean in a man's intestines. You hate it; it makes 
you writhe; that's why all the Americans so dote upon that canaille 
word, extrovert. Of course, nature in you knows better as some 
very lovely passages that you have written show. 

But to conclude, you and I can do without each other, in the 
usual way of the sloughy habits and manners of people. I can con- 
tinue with my monologue of life and death until inevitable anni- 
hilation. But it's wrong. And as I have said, whatever snares I make 
for myself, I won't weep over Poe, or Rilke, or Dickinson, or Gogol, 
while I turn away the few waifs and Ishmaels of the spirit in this 



28 



country. I have said that the artist is an Ishmael; Call me Ishmael, 
fays Melville in the very first line of Moby Dick; he is the wild ass of 
a man; — Ishmael means affliction. You see, I am always concerned 
with the present when I read the plaintive epitaphs in the American 
graveyard of literature and poetry, and in weighing the head and 
the heart that ached in the land, that you are not. With you the 
book is one thing, and the man who wrote it another. The concep- 
tion of time in literature and in chronicles makes it easy for men 
to make such hoax cleavages. But I am getting garrulous: — 

E. D. 



29 



1 

III 



How strange you are, you idiot! 

So you think because the rose 

is red that you shall have the mastery? 

The rose is green and will bloom, 

overtopping you, green, livid 

green when you shall no more speak, or 

taste, or even be. My whole life 

has hung too long upon a partial victory. 

But, creature of the weather, I 
don't want to go any faster than 
I have to go to win. 

Music it for yourself. 

He picked a hairpin from the floor 
and stuck it in his ear, probing 
around inside— 

The melting snow 

dripped from the cornice by his window 
90 strokes a minute — 

He descried 

in the linoleum at his feet a woman's 
face, smelled his hands, 

strong of a lotion he had used 
not long since, lavender, 
rolled his thumb 

about the tip of his left index finger 
and watched it dip each time, 
like the head 



30 



of a cat licking its paw, heard the 

faint filing sound it made: of 

earth his ears are full, there is no sound 

: And his thoughts soared 

to the magnificence of imagined delights 

where he would probe 

as into the pupil of an eye 

as through a hoople of fire, and emerge 

sheathed in a robe 

streaming with light. What heroic 

dawn of desire 

is denied to his thoughts? 

They are trees 

from whose leaves streaming with rain 
his mind drinks of desire : 

Who is younger than I? 

The contemptible twig? 
that I was? stale in mind 

whom the dirt 

recently gave up? Weak 

to the wind. 
Gracile? Taking up no place, 
too narrow to be engraved 

with the maps 

of a world it never knew, 

the green and 
dovegrey countries of 
- the mind. 



A mere stick that has 

twenty leaves 
against my convolutions. 

What shall it become, 

Snot nose, that I have 

not been? 
I enclose it and 

persist, go on. 

Let it rot, at my center. 

Whose center? 
I stand and surpass 

youth's leanness. 

My surface is myself. 

Under which 
to witness, youth is 

buried. Roots? 



Everybody has roots. 

We go on living, we permit ourselves 

to continue — but certainly 

not for the university, what they publish 

severally or as a group: clerks 

got out of hand forgetting for the most part 

to whom they are beholden. 

spitted on fixed concepts like 

roasting hogs, sputtering, their drip sizzling 

in the fire 

Something else, something else the same. 



He was more concerned, much more concerned with detaching 
tilt label from a discarded mayonnaise jar, the glass jar in which 
•Dine patient had brought a specimen for examination, than to ex- 
ftffline and treat the twenty and more infants taking their turn from 
the outer office, their mothers tormented and jabbering. He'd stand 
In the alcove pretending to wash, the jar at the bottom of the sink 
Well out of sight and, as the rod of water came down, work with, 
his fingernail in the splash at the edge of the colored label striving 
to loose the tightly glued paper. It must have been varnished over, 
he argued, to have it stick that way. One corner of it he'd got loose 
In spite of all and would get the rest presently: talking pleasantly the 
while and with great skill to the anxious parent. 

Will you give me a baby? asked the young colored woman 

in a small voice standing naked by the bed. Refused 

she shrank within herself. She too refused. It makes me 

too nervous, she said, and pulled the covers round her. 
Instead, this: 

In time of general privation 
a private herd, 20 quarts of milk 
to the main house and 8 of cream, 
all the fresh vegetables, sweet corn, 
a swimming pool, (empty! ) a building 
covering an acre kept heated 
winter long (to conserve the plumbing) 
Grapes in April, orchids 
k like weeds, uncut, at tropic 

heat while the snow flies, left 

to droop on the stem, not even 

exhibited at the city show. To every 

employee from the top down 

the same in proportion—as many as 

there are: butter daily by 

the pound lot, fresh greens — even to 

the gate-keeper. A special French maid, 

her sole duty to groom 

the pet Pomeranians — who sleep. 



Cornelius Doremus, who was baptized at Acquackonock in 171 4, 
and died near Montville in 1803, was possessed of goods and chattels 
appraised at $419.5814 . He was 89 years old when he died, and doubt- 
less had turned his farm over to his children, so that he retained only 
what he needed for his personal comfort: 

24 shirts at .82 V% cents, $19.88: 5 sheets, $7.00: 4 pillow cases, $2.12: 
4 pair trousers, $2.00: 1 sheet, $1.3 7%: a handkerchief, $1.75: 8 caps, 
.75 cents: 2 pairs shoebuckles and knife, .25 cents: 14 pairs stockings, 
$5.25: 2 pairs **Mittins!* .63 cents: 1 linen jacket, .50 cents: 4 pairs 
breeches, $2.63: 4 waist coats, $3.50: 5 coats, $4.75: 1 yellow coat, 
$5.00: 2 hats, .25 cents: 1 pair shoes, .12% cents: 1 chest, .75 cents: 
1 large chair, Si. 50: 1 chest, .12% cents: 1 pair andirons, $1.00: 1 bed 
and bedding, $18.00: 2 pocketbooks, .37% cents: 1 small trunk, 
.19% cents: Kastor hot, .87% cents: 3 reeds, $iUS6: 1 "Quill wheal," 
.50 cents. 

Who restricts knowledge? Some say 
it is the decay of the middle class 
making an impossible moat between the high 
and the low where 

the life once flourished . . knowledge 

of the avenues of information — 

So that we do not know (in time) 

where the stasis lodges* And if it is not 

the knowledgeable idiots, the university, 

they at least are the non-purveyors 

should be devising means 

to leap the gap. Inlets? The outward 

masks of the special interests 

that perpetuate the stasis and make it 

profitable* 

They block the release 
that should cleanse and assume 
prerogatives as a private recompense. 
Others are also at fault because 
they do nothing. 



34 



By nightfall of the 28th, acres of mud were exposed and the water 
mostly had been drawn off. The fish did not run into the nets. But 
I black crowd of people could be seen from the cars, standing 
about under the willows, watching the men and boys on the drained 
lake bottom . , . some hundred yards in front of the dam. 

The whole bottom was covered with people, and the big eels, 
weighing from three to four pounds each, would approach the edge 
and then the boys would strike at them. From this time everybody 
got all they wanted in a few moments, 

On the morning of the 30th, the boys and men were still there. 
There seemed to be no end to the stock of eels especially. All 
through the year fine messes of fish have been taken from the lake; 
but nobody dreamt of the quantity that were living in it. Singularly 
to say not a snake had been seen. The fish and eels seemed to have 
monopolized the lake entirely. Boys in bathing had often reported 
the bottom as full of big snakes that had touched their feet and 
limbs but they were without doubt the eels. 

Those who prepared the nets were not the ones who got the most 
fish. It was the hoodlums and men who leaped into the mud and 
water where the nets could not work that rescued from the mud 
and water the finest load of fish. 

A man going tothe % depot with a peach basket gave the basket 
to a boy and he filled it in five minutes, deftly snapping the vertebrae 
back of the heads to make them stay in, and he charged the modest 
sum of .25 cents for the basket full of eels. The crowd increased. 
There were millions of fish. Wagons were sent for to carry away 
the heaps that lined both sides of the roadway. Little boys were 
dragging behind them all they could carry home, strung on sticks 
and in bags and baskets. There were heaps of catfish all along the 
walk, bunches of suckers and pike, and there were three black bass 
on one stick, a silk weaver had caught them. At a quarter past seven 
a wagon body was filled with fish and eels . . . four wagon loads 
had been carried away. 

At least fifty men in the lake were hard at work and had sticks 
with which they struck the big eels and benumbed them as they 
glided along the top of the mud in shoal water, and so were able to 
t hold them until they could carry them out: the men and boys 
Splashed about in the mud. . . . Night did not put an end to the 
scene. All night long with lights on shore and lanterns over the 
mud, the work went on. 



Moveless 

he envies the men that ran 
and could run off 
toward the peripheries— 
to other centers, direct — * 
for clarity (if 
they found it) 

loveliness and 
authority in the world— 

a sort of springtime 

toward which their minds aspired 

but which he saw, 

within himself — ice bound 

and leaped, "the body, not until 
the following spring, frozen in 
an ice cake" 

Shortly before two o'clock August i<S, 1875, Mr. Leonard Sand- 
ford, of the firm of Post and Sandford, while at work on the im- 
provements for the water company, at the Falls, was looking into 
the chasm near the wheel house of the water works. He saw what 
looked like a mass of clothing, and on peering intendy at times as the 
torrent sank and rose, he could distincdy see the legs of a man, the 
body being lodged between two logs, in a very extraordinary man- 
ner. It was in the "crotch" of these logs that the body was caught. 

The sight of a human body hanging over the precipice was indeed 
one which was as.novel as it was awful in appearance. The news of 
its finding attracted a very large number of visitors all that day. 

What more, to carry the thing through? 

Half the river red, half steaming purple 
from the factory vents, spewed out hot, 
swirling, bubbling. The dead bank, 
shining mud . 



36 



What can he think else — along 

die gravel of the ravished park, torn by 

the wild workers' children tearing up the grass, 

kicking, screaming? A chemistry, corollary 

to academic misuse, which the theorem 

with accuracy, accurately misses . • 

He thinks: their mouths eating and kissing, 
spitting and sucking, speaking; a 
partitype of five 

He thinks: two eyes; nothing escapes them, 
neither the convolutions of the sexual orchid 
hedged by fern and honey-smells, to 
the last hair of the consent of the dying. 

And silk spins from the hot drums to a music 

of pathetic son venirs, a comb and nail-file 

in an imitation leather case — to 

remind him, to remind him! and 

a photograph-holder with pictures of himself 

between the two children, all returned 

weeping, weeping — in the back room 

of the widow who married again, a vile tongue 

but laborious ways, driving a drunken 

husband 

What do I care for the flies, shit with them* 
Pm out of the house all day. 

Into the sewer they threw the dead horse. 
What birth does this foretell? I think 
he'll write a novel bye and bye . 

P. Your interest is in the bloody loam but what 
I'm after is the finished product. 



I. Leadership passes into empire; empire begets in- 
solence; insolence brings ruin. 

Such is the mystery of his one two, one two. 

And so among the rest he drives 

in his new car out to the suburbs, out 

by the rhubarb farm— a simple thought— 

where the convent of the Little Sisters of 

St. Ann pretends a mystery t 

What 

irritation of offensively red brick is this, 
red as poor-man's flesh? Anachronistic? 

The mystery 

of streets and back rooms — 

wiping the nose on sleeves, come here 

to dream . 

Tenement windows, sharp edged, in which 
no face is seen — though curtainless, into 
which no more than birds and insects look or 
the moon stares, concerning which they dare 
look back, by times. 

It is the complement exact of vulgar streets, 
a mathematic calm, controlled, the architecture 
mete, sinks there, lifts here . 
the same'blank and staring eyes. 

An incredible 

clumsiness of address, 

senseless rapes — caught on hands and knees 
scrubbing a greasy corridor; the blood 
boiling as though in a vat, where they soak — 

Plaster saints, glass jewels 

and those apt paper flowers, bafHingly 



complex-^have here 

their forthright beauty, beside: 



Things, things unmentionable, 

the sink with the waste farina in it and 

lumps of rancid meat, milk-bottle-tops: have 

here a tranquility and loveliness 

Have here (in his thoughts) 

a complement tranquil and chaste. 

He shifts his change: 

*The 7th, December, this year, (1737) at night, was a large shock 
of an earthquake, accompanied with a remarkable rumbling noise; 
people waked in their beds, the doors flew open, bricks fell from 
the chimneys; the consternation was serious, but happily no great 
damage ensued." 



hidden from sun and sight — 

hedged in by the pouring torrent- 
and has its birth and death there 
in that moist chamber, shut from 
the world — and unknown to the world, 
cloaks itself in mystery — 



Thought clambers up, 
snail like, upon the wet rocks 



And the myth 




a flickering green 
inspiring terror, watching 



And standing, shrouded there, in that din, 
Earth, the chatterer, father of all 
speech • • • • • • • • 



39 



N.B. "In order apparently to bring the meter still more within the 
sphere of prose and common speech, Hipponax ended his iambics 
with a spondee or a trochee instead of an iambus, doing thus the 
utmost violence to the rhythmical structure. These deformed and 
mutilated verses were called xw\L*fipot or tanpoi <r#c<£foyT« (lame 
or limping iambics). They communicated a curious crustiness to the 
style. The choliambi are in poetry what the dwarf or cripple is in 
human nature. Here again, by their acceptance of this halting meter, 
the Greeks displayed their acute aesthetic sense of propriety, rec- 
ognizing the harmony which subsists between crabbed verses and 
the distorted subjects with which they dealt — the vices and per- 
versions of humanity — as well as their agreement with the snarl- 
ing spirit of the satirist. Deformed verse was suited to deformed 
morality." 

—Studies of the Greek Poets, John Addington Symonds 

Vol. I, p. 284 



40 



Book Two 



Sunday in the Park 



Outside 

outside myself 

there is a world, 
he rumbled, subject to my incursions 
— a world 

(to me) at rest, 

which I approach 

concretely — 

The scene's the Park 
upon the rock, 
female to the city 

— upon whose body Paterson instructs his thoughts 
(concretely) 

— late spring, 
a Sunday afternoon! 

— and goes by the footpath to the cliff (counting: 
the proof) 

himself among the others, 
— treads there the same stones 
on which their feet slip as they climb, 
paced by their dogs! 

laughing, calling to each other- 
Wait for me! 

43 



the ugly legs of the young girls, 
pistons too powerful for delicacy! 
the men's arms, red, used to heat and cold, 
to toss quartered beeves and 

Yah! Yah! Yah! Yah! 

— over-riding 

the risks: 

pouring down! 

For the flower of a day! 

Arrived breathless, after a hard climb he, 
looks back (beautiful but expensive! ) to 
the pearl-grey towers! Re-turns 
and starts, possessive, through the trees, 

— that love, 
that is not, is not in those terms 
to which I'm still the positive 
in spite of all; 

the ground dry, — passive-possessive 

Walking — 

Thickets gather about groups of squat sand-pine, 
all but from bare rock • • 

— a scattering of man-high cedars (sharp cones), 
antlered sumac 

— roots, for the most part, writhing 
upon the surface 

(so close are we to ruin every 

day!) 

searching the punk-dry rot 



Walking — 

The body is tilted slightly forward from the basic standing 
position and the weight thrown on the ball of the foot, 
while the other thigh is lifted and the leg and opposite 
arm are swung forward (fig. 6b). Various muscles, aided 

Despite my having said that I'd never write to you again, I do so 
now because I find, widi the passing of time, that the outcome of 
my failure with you has been the complete damming up of all my 
creative capacities in a particularly disastrous manner such as I 
have never before experienced. 

For a great many weeks now (whenever I've tried to write po- 
etry) every thought f ve had, even every feeling, has been struck 
off some surface crust of myself which began gathering when I 
first sensed that you were ignoring the real contents of my last 
letters to you, and which finally congealed into some impenetrable 
substance when you asked me to quit corresponding with you 
altogether without even an explanation. 

That kind of blockage, exiling one's self from one's self — have 
you ever experienced h? I dare say you have, at moments; and if 
so, you can well understand what a serious psychological injury 
it amounts to when turned into a permanent day-to-day condition. 

How do I love you? These! 

(He hears! Voices . indeterminate! Sees them 
moving, in groups, by twos and fours — filtering 
off by way of the many bypaths.) 

/ asked him, What do you do? 

He smiled patiently , The typical American question. 
In Europe they would ask, What are you doing? Or, 
What are you doing now? 

What do I do? I listen, to the water falling, (No 
sound of it here but with the wind!) This is my entire 
occupation. 



45 



No fairer day ever dawned anywhere than May 2, 1880, when 
the German Singing Societies of Paterson met on Garret Mountain, 
as they did many years before on the first Sunday in May. 

However the meeting of 1880 proved a fatal day, when William 
Dalzell, who owned a piece of property near the scene of the fes- 
tivities, shot John Joseph Van Houten. Dalzell claimed that the 
visitors had in previous years walked over his garden and was 
determined that this year he would stop them from crossing any 
part of his grounds. 

Immediately after the shot the quiet group of singers was turned 
into an infuriated mob who would take Dalzell into their own 
hands. The mob then proceeded to burn the barn into which Dalzell 
had retreated from the angry group. 

Dalzell fired at the approaching mob from a window in the barn 
and one of the bullets struck a little girl in the cheek. . . . Some of 
the Paterson Police rushed Dalzell out of the barn [to] the house of 
John Ferguson some half furlong away. 

The crowd now numbered some ten thousand, 

"a great beast!" 

for many had come from the city to join the 
conflict. The case looked serious, for the Police were greatly out- 
numbered. The crowd then tried to burn the Ferguson house and 
Dalzell went to the house of John McGuckin. While m this house 
it was that Sergeant John McBride suggested that it might be well 
to send for William McNulty, Dean of Saint Joseph's Catholic 
Church. 

In a moment the Dean set on a plan. He proceeded to the scene 
in a hack. Taking Dalzell by the arm, in full view of the infuriated 
mob, he led the man to the hack and seating himself by his side, 
ordered the driver to proceed. The crowd hesitated, bewildered 
between the bravery of the Dean and 

Signs everywhere of birds nesting, while 

in the air, slow, a crow zigzags 

with heavy wings before the wasp-thrusts 

of smaller birds circling about him 

that dive from above stabbing for his eyes 

Walking - 



46 



he ' ^avcs the path, finds hard going 

p .ross-field, stubble and matted brambles 

seeming a pasture — but no pasture 

— old furrows, to say labor sweated or 

had sweated here 

a flame, 

spent. 

The file-sharp grass • 

When! from before his feet, half tripping, 
picking a way, there starts 

a flight of empurpled wings! 
— invisibly created (their 
jackets dust-grey) from the dust kindled 
to sudden ardor! 

They fly away, churring! until 
their strength spent they plunge 
to the coarse cover again and disappear 
— but leave, livening the mind, a flashing 
of wings and a churring song 

AND a grasshopper of red basalt, boot-long, 
tumbles from the core of his mind, 
a rubble-bank disintegrating beneath a 
tropic downpour 

Chapultepec! grasshopper hill! 

« 

—a matt stone solicitously instructed 
to bear away some rumor 
of the living presence that has preceded 
it, out-precedented its breath 



These wings do not unfold for flight— 
no need! 

the weight (to the hand) finding 

a counter-weight or counter buoyancy 

by the mind's wings 

He is afraid! What then? 

Before his feet, at each step, the flight 
is renewed. A burst of wings, a quick 
churring sound : 

couriers to the ceremonial of love! 

—aflame in flight! 

— aflame only in flight! 

No flesh but the caress! 

He is led forward by their announcing wings. 

If that situation with you (your ignoring those particular letters 
and then your final note) had belonged to the inevitable lacrimae 
rerum (as did, for instance, my experience with Z.) its result could 
not have been (as it has been) to destroy the validity for me myself 
of myself, because in that case nothing to do with my sense of 
personal identity would have been maimed — the cause of one's 
frustrations in such instances being not in one's self nor in the other 
person but merely in the sorry scheme of things. But since your 
ignoring those letters was not "natural" in that sense (or rather since 
to regard it as unnatural I am forced, psychologically, to feel that 
what I wrote you about, was sufficiently trivial and unimportant and 
absurd to merit your evasion) it could not but follow that that 
whole side of life connected with those letters should in consequence 
take on for my own self that same kind of unreality and inacces- 
sibility which the inner lives of other people often have for us. . 



48 

* 



—his mind a red stone carved to be 
endless flight 

Love that is a stone endlessly in flight, 
so long as stone shall last bearing 
the chisel's stroke 

and is lost and covered 
with ash, falls from an undermined bank 
and — begins churring! 
AND DOES, the stone after the life! 

The stone lives, the flesh dies 
—we know nothing of death. 

— boot long 

window-eyes that front the whole head, 

Red stone! as if 
a light still clung in them 

Love 

combating sleep 



the sleep 

piecemeal 

Shortly jtfter midnight, August 20, 1878, special officer Goodridge, 
when, in front of the Franklin House, heard a strange squealing 
noise down towards Ellison Street. Running to see what was the 
matter, he found a cat at bay under the water table at Clark's hard- 
ware store on the corner, confronting a strange black animal too 
snail to be a cat and entirely too large for a rat. The officer ran up 
J to the spot and the animal got in under the grating of the cellar 
Window, from which it frequently poked its head with a lightning 
rapidity. Mr. Goodridge made several strikes at it with his club but 
was unable to hit it. Then officer Keyes came along and as soon as 
he saw it, he said it was a mink, which confirmed the theory that 
Mr. Goodridge had already formed. Both tried for a while to hit 
it with their clubs but were unable to do so, when finally officer 



49 



Goodridge drew his pistol and fired a shot at the animal. The shot 
evidently missed its mark, but the noise and powder so frightened 

the little joker that it jumped out into the street, and made down 
into Ellison Street at a wonderful gait, closely followed by the two 
officers. The mink finally disappeared down a cellar window under 
the grocery store below Spangermacher's lager beer saloon, and 
that was the last seen of it. The cellar was examined again in the 
morning, but nothing further could be discovered of the little critter 
that had caused so much fun. 

Without invention nothing is well spaced, 

unless the mind change, unless 

the stars are new measured, according 

to their relative positions, the 

line will not change, the necessity 

will not matriculate: unless there is 

a new mind there cannot be a new 

line, the old will go on 

repeating itself with recurring 

deadliness: without invention 

nothing lies under the witch-hazel 

bush, the alder does not grow from among 

the hummocks margining the all 

but spent channel of the old swale, 

the small foot-prints 

of the mice under the overhanging 

tufts of the bunch-grass will not 

appear: without invention the line 

will never again take on its ancient 

divisions when the word, a supple word, 

lived in it, crumbled now to chalk. 

Under the bush they lie protected 
from the offending sun — 
ii o'clock 

They seem to talk 



SO 



k, devoted to pleasure : devoted to . grasshoppers 



3 colored girls, of age! stroll by 
—their color flagrant, 

their voices vagrant 
their laughter wild, flagellant, dissociated 
from the fixed scene 

But the white girl, her head 

upon an arm, a butt between her fingers 

lies under the bush 

Semi-naked, facing her, a sunshade 
over his eyes, 
he talks with her 

— the jalopy 4ialf hid 

behind them in the trees — 

I bought a new bathing suit, just 

pants and a brassier : 
the breasts and 

the pudenda covered — beneath 

the sun in frank vulgarity. 
Minds beaten thin 
by waste — among 

the working classes SOME sort 

of breakdown i 

has occurred. Semi-roused 

they lie upon their blanket 
face to face, 

mottled by the shadows of the leaves 



upon them, unannoyed, 
at least here unchallenged. 
Not undignified. 

talking, flagrant beyond all talk 
in perfect domesticity — 
And having bathed 

and having eaten (a few 
sandwiches) 

their pitiful thoughts do meet 

in the flesh — surrounded 

by churring loves! Gay wings 

to bear them (in sleep) 

— their thoughts alight, 
away 

« • among the grass 

Walking — 

across the old swale — a dry wave in the ground 
tho' marked still by the line of Indian alders 

they (the Indians) would weave 
in and out, unseen, among them along the stream 

come out whooping between the log 
house and men working the field, cut them 
off! they having left their arms in the block- 
house, and^— without defense — carry them away 
into captivity. One old man 

Forget it! for God's sake, Cut 
out that stuff 



^falking 

he rejoins the path and sees, on a treeless 
knoll — the red path choking it — 
a stone wall, a sort of circular 
redoubt against the sky, barren and 
unoccupied. Mount. Why not? 

A chipmunk, 
with tail erect, scampers among the stones. 

(Thus the rnind grows, up flinty pinnacles) 

but as he leans, in his stride, 
at sight of a flint arrow-head' 

(it is not) 

— there 

in the distance, to the north, appear 
to him the chronic hills 

Well, so they are. 

He stops short: 

Who's here? 

To a stone bench, to which she's leashed, 
within the wall a man in tweeds— a pipe hooked in his jaw — is 
combing out a new-washed Collie bitch. The deliberate comb- 
Strokes part the long hair — even her face he combs though her 
legs tremble slightly— until it lies, as he designs, like ripples 
in white sand giving off its clean-dog odor. The floor, stone 
slabs, she stands patiently before his caresses in that bare *'sea 
'chamber" 

to the right 
from this vantage, the observation tower 
in the middle distance stands up prominently 
from its pubic grove 



Dear B. Please excuse me for not having told you this when I was 
over to your house. I had no courage to answer your questions so 
111 write it. Your dog is going to have puppies although I prayed 
she would be okey. It wasn't that she was left alone as she never 
was but I used to let her out at dinner time while I hung up my 
clothes. At the time, it was on a Thursday, my mother-in-law had 
some sheets and table cloths out on the end of the line. I figured the 
dogs wouldn't come as long as I was there and none came thru my 
yard or near the apartment. He must have come between your 
hedge and the house. Every few seconds I would run to the end 
of the line or peek under the sheets to see if Musty was alright. She 
was until I looked a minute too late. I took sticks and stones after 
the dog but he wouldn't beat it. George gave me plenty of hell and 
I started praying that I had frightened the other dog so much that 
nothing had happened* I know you'll be cursing like a son-of-a-gun 
and probably won't ever speak to me again for not having told 
you. Don*t think I haven't been worrying about Musty. She's occu- 
pied my mind every day since that awful event. You won't think 
so highly of me now and feel like protecting me. Instead Fll bet 
you could kill ... 

And still the picnickers come on, now 
early afternoon, and scatter through the 
trees over the fenced-in acres 

Voices! 

multiple and inarticulate . voices 
clattering loudly to the sun, to 
die clouds. Voices! 

assaulting the air gaily from all sides. 

— among which the ear strains to catch 
the movement of one voice among the rest 
— a reed-like voice 

of peculiar accent 

Thus she finds what peace there is, reclines, 

before his approach, stroked 

by their clambering feet — for pleasure 



54 



It is all for 

pleasure . their feet • aimlessly 
wandering 

The "great beast" come to sun himself 

as he may 
. their dreams mingling, 

aloof 

Let us be reasonable! 

Sunday in the park, 
limited by the escarpment, eastward; to 
the west abutting on the old road: recreation 
with a view! the binoculars chained 
to anchored stanchions along the east wall- 
beyond which, a hawk 
* - soars! 

— a trumpet sounds fitfully. 

Stand at the rampart (use a metronome 

if your ear is deficient, one made in Hungary 

if you prefer) 

and look away north by east where the church 

spires still spend their wits against 

the sky to the ball-park 

in the hollow with its minute figures running 

— beyond the gap where the river 

plunges into the narrow gorge, unseen 

— and the imagination soars, as a voice 
beckons, a thundrous voice, endless 
— as sleep: the voice 
that has ineludably called them — 

that unmoving roar! 



churches and factories 

(at a price) 
together, summoned them from the pit . 

— his voice, one among many (unheard) 
moving under all. 

The mountain quivers. 
Time! Count! Sever and mark time! 

So during the early afternoon, from place 

to place he moves, 

his voice mingling with other voices 

— the voice in his voice 

opening his old throat, blowing out his lips, 

kindling his mind (more 

than his mind will kindle) 

— following the hikers. 

At last he comes to the idlers' favorite 
haunts, the picturesque summit, where 
the blue-stone (rust-red where exposed) 
has been faulted at various levels 

(ferns rife among the stones) 
into rough terraces and partly closed in 
dens of sweet grass, the ground gently sloping. 

Loiterers in groups straggle 

over the bare rock-table — scratched by their 

boot-nails more than the glacier scratched 

them — walking indifferent through 

each other's privacy • 

— in any case, 
the center of movement, the core of gaiety. 



Here a young man, perhaps sixteen, 

is sitting with his back to the rock among 

some ferns playing a guitar, dead pan 

The rest are eating and drinking. 

The big guy 
in the biack hat is too full to move 



but Mary 



is up! 



Come on! Wassa ma'? You got 
broken leg? 

It is this air! 

the air of the Midi 
and the old cultures intoxicates them: 
present! 

— lifts one arm holding the cymbals 
of her thoughts, cocks her old head 
and dances! raising her skirts: 

La la la la! 

What a bunch of bums! Afraid somebody see 
you? 

Blah! 

Excrementi! 

— she spits. 

Look a' me, Grandma! Everybody too damn 
lazy. 

This is the old, the very old, old upon old, 
the undying: even to the minute gestures, 
the hand holding the cup, the wine 
spilling, the arm stained by it: 



Remember 



the peon in the lost 
Eisenstein film drinking 

from a wine-skin with the abandon 
of a horse drinking 

so that it slopped down his chin? 
down his neck, dribbling 

over his shirt-front and down 
onto his pants — laughing, toothless? 

Heavenly man! 

— the leg raised, verisimilitude 
even to the coarse contours of the leg, the 
bovine touch! The leer, the cave of it, 
the female of it facing the male, the satyr — 

(Priapus! ) 
with that lonely implication, goatherd 
and goat, fertility, the attack, drunk, 
cleansed 

Rejected. Even the film 
suppressed : but . persistent 

The picnickers laugh on the rocks celebrating 
the varied Sunday of their loves with 
its declining light — 



look down (from a ledge) into this grassy 
den 

(somewhat removed from the traffic) 

above whose brows 
a moon! where she lies sweating at his side: 



against him — wounded (drunk), 
against him (a lump) desiring, 
against him, bored . 

flagrantly bored and sleeping, a 
beer bottle still grasped spear-like 
in his hand 

while the small, sleepless boys, who 
have climbed the columnar rocks 
overhanging the pair (where they lie 



careless in their narrow cell under 



i 

at them, puzzled and in the sexless 
light (of childhood) bored equally, 
go charging off 

There where 
the movement throbs openly 
and you can hear the Evangelist shouting! 




she— lean as a goat — leans 
her lean belly to the man's backside 
toying with the clips of his 
suspenders • 



-*-to which he adds his useless voice: 
until there moves in his sleep 
a music that is whole, unequivocal (in 
his sleep, sweating in his sleep — laboring 
against sleep, agasp!) 

— and does not waken. 

Sees, alive (asleep) 

— the fall's roar entering 
his sleep (to be fulfilled) 

reborn 

in his sleep— scattered over the mountain 
severally • 

— by which he woos her, severally. 

And the amnesic crowd (the scattered),* 

called about — strains 

to catch the movement of one voice 

hears, 

Pleasure! Pleasure! 

— feels, 

half dismayed, the afternoon of complex 
voices its own — 

and is relieved 

(reEved) 

A cop is directing traffic 
across the main road up 
a little wooded slope toward 
the conveniences: 



humped roots matted into the shallow soil 
— mostly gone: rock out-croppings 
polished by the feet of the picnickers: 
sweetbarked sassafras 

leaning from the rancid grease: 

deformity— 

— to be deciphered (a horn, a trumpet! ) 
an elucidation by multiplicity, 
a corrosion, a parasitic curd, a clarion 
for belief, to be good dogs : 

NO DOGS ALLOWED AT LARGE IN THIS PARK 



I 



ff 



Blocked. 

(Make a song out of that: concretely) 

By whom? 

- 

In its midst rose a massive church. . . And it all came 
to me then— that those poor souls had nothing else in the world, 
save that church, between them and the eternal stony, ungrate- 
ful and unpromising dirt they lived by 

Cash is mulct of them that others may live 
secure 

• • and knowledge restricted. 

An orchestral dullness overlays their world 

I see they — the Senate, is trying to block Lilienthal and deliver 
"the bomb" over to a few industrialists. I don't think they will 
succeed but . . that is what I mean when I refuse to get ex- 
cited over the cry, Communist! they use to blind us. It's terri- 
fying to think how easily we can be destroyed, a few votes. 
Even though Communism is a threat, are Communists any 
worse than the guilty bastards trying in that way to under- 
mine us? 

We leap awake and what we see 
fells us 

* 

Let terror twist the world! 

Faitoute, sick of his diversions but proud of women, 
his requites, standing with his back 
to the lions* pit, 

(where the drunken 
lovers slept,-now, both of them) 

62 



started again wandering — foot pacing foot outward 
into emptiness • • 

Up there. 

The cop points. 

A sign nailed 

to a tree: Women. 

Yon can see figures 
moving beyond the screen of the trees and, close 
at hand, music blurts out suddenly. 

Walking — 

a 

cramped arena has been left clear at the base 
of the observation tower near the urinals. This 
is the. Lord's line: Several broken benches 
drawn up in a curving row against the shrubbery 
face the flat ground, benches on which 
a few children have been propped by the others 
against their running off . 

Three middle aged men with iron smiles 
stand behind the benches — backing (watching) 
the kids, the kids and several women — and 
holding, 




Before them an old man, 
wearing a fringe of long white hair, bareheaded, 
his glabrous skull reflecting the sun's 
light and in shirtsleeves, is beginning to 
speak — 



calling to the birds and trees! 



Jumping up and down in his ecstasy he beams 
into the empty blue, eastward, oyer the parapet 
toward the city • 

There are people — especially among women — who can speak only 
to one person. And I am one of those women. I do not come 
easily to confidences (though it cannot but seem otherwise to you) . 
I could not possibly convey to any one of those people who have 
crossed my path in these few months, those particular phases of my 
life which I made the subject of my letters to you. I must let myself 
be entirely misunderstood and misjudged in all my economic and 
social maladjustments, rather than ever attempt to communicate to 
anyone else what I wrote to you about. And so my having heaped 
these confidences upon you (however tiresome you may have found 
them and however far I may yet need to go in the attainment of 
complete self-honesty which is difficult for anyone) was enough 
in itself to have caused my failure with you to have so disastrous 
an effect upon me. 

Look, there lies the city! 

— calling with his back 
to the paltry congregation, calling the winds; 
a voice calling, calling 

Behind him the drawn children whom his suit 

of holy proclamation so very badly fits, 

winkless, under duress, must feel 

their buttocks ache on the slats of the sodden 

benches. 

But as he rests, they sing — when 
prodded— as he wipes his prismed brow. 

The light 

fondles it as if inclined to form a halo — 



64 




Then he laughs: 

One sees him first. Few listen, 
pay the least 
l, walking about, unless some Polock 
with his mouth open tries to make it out, 
as if it were some Devil (looks into the faces 
of a young couple passing, laughing 
together, for some hint) What kind of priest 
is this? Alarmed, goes off scowling, looking 
back. 

This is a Protestant! protesting — as 
though the world were his own 

— another, 
twenty feet off, walks his dog absorbedly 
along the wall top — thoughtful of the dog— 
at the cliffs edge above a fifty foot drop 

alternately the harangue, followed 
by horn blasts surmounting 
what other sounds . they quit 
as the entranced figure of a 



But his decoys bring in no ducks — other than 
the children with their dusty little minds 
and happiest 72072 seqwturs* 

No figure 

from the clouds seems brought hovering near 



The detectives found a note on the kitchen table addressed to a 
soldier from Fort Bragg, N. C. The contents of the letter showed 
that she was in love with the soldier, the detective said. 



65 



This is what the preacher said: Don't think 
about me. Call me a stupid old man, that's 
right. Yes, call me an old bore who talks until 
he is hoarse when nobody wants to listen. That's 
the truth. I'm an old fool and I know it. 

BUT . ! 

You can't ignore the words of Our Lord Jesus 
Christ who died on the Cross for us that we 
may have Eternal life! Amen. 

Amen! Amen! 



shouted the 




behind the 




of our Lord that gives 
a plain, ignorant fellow 
as 1 a touch of His Own bies$ed dignity and 
and strength among you . . 

I tell you — lifting up his arms — I bring 
the riches of all the ages to you here today. 

It was windless and hot in the sun 
where he was standing bareheaded. 

Great riches shall be yours! 
I wasn't born here. I was born in what we call 
over here the Old Country. But it's the same 
the same kind of people there as here 
same kind of 
here — only, there isn't as much money 
over there — and that makes the dil 



66 



My family were poor people. So I started to work 
when I was pretty young. 

—Oh, it took me a Ions time! but 
one day I said to myself, Klaus, that's my name, 
Klaus, I said to myself, you're a success. 

You have worked hard but you have been 
lucky. 

You're 

rich — and now we're going to enjoy ourselves. 

Hamilton saw more clearly than anyone else with what urgency 
the new government must assume authority over the States if it 
was to survive. He never trusted the people, "a great beast," as he 
saw them and held Jefferson to be little better if not worse than any. 

" So I came to America! 

Especially in the matter of finances a critical stage presented 
itself. The States were inclined to shrug off the debt incurred during 
the recent war-^eaeh £tate preferring to undertake its own private 
obligations separately. Hamilton saw that if this were allowed to 
ensue the effect would be fatal, to future credit. He came out with 
vigor and cunning for "Assumption," assumption by the Federal 
Government of the national debt, and the granting to it of powers 
of taxation without which it could not raise the funds necessary for 
this purpose. A storm followed in which he found himself opposed 
by Madison and Jefferson. 

But when I got here I soon found out that I 

was a pretty small frog in a mighty big pool. So 

I went to work all over again. I suppose 

I was born with a gift for that sort of thing. 

I throve and I gloried in it. And T thought then 

that I was happy. And I was — as happy 

as money could make me. 

But did it make me GOOD? 



67 



He stopped to laugh, healthily, and 
his wan assistants followed him, 
forcing it out—grinning against 
the rocks with wry smiles 

NO! he shouted, bending 
at the knees and straightening himself up 
violently with the force of his emphasis — like 
Beethoven getting a crescendo out of an 
orchestra— NO! 

It did not make me good. (His clenched fists 
were raised above his brows.) I kept on making 
money, more and more of it, but it didn't make 
me good. 

America the golden! 
with trick and money 

damned 
like Altgeld sick 

and molden 
we love thee bitter 

land 

Like Altgeld on the 

corner 
seeing the mourners 

pass 

'we bow our heads 

before thee 
and take our hats 
in hand 

And so 

one day I heard a voice . . . a voice— just 
as 1 am talking to you here today. . . 



. , And the voice said, 
Klaus, what's the matter with you? You're not 
happy. I am happy! I shouted back, 
Fve got everything I want. No, it said. 
Klaus, that's a lie. You're not happy. 
And I had to admit it was the truth. I wasn't 
happy. That bothered me a lot. But I was pig- 
headed and when I thought it over I said 

you must be g< 
that worry you. 




our blessed Lord came to 
on my shoulder and sai 



then one da 
and put His 




you've 



I am worried, I replied, but I don't know what to 
do about it. I got everything that money can 
buy but I'm not happy, that's the truth. 

And the Lord said to me, Klaus, get rid of your 
money. You'll never be happy until you do that. 



As a corollary to the famous struggle for assumption lay the 
realization among many leading minds in the young republic that 
unless industry were set upon its feet, unless manufactured goods 
could be produced income for taxation would be a myth. 

The new world had been looked on as a producer of precious 
metals, pelts and raw materials to be turned over to the mother 
country for manufactured articles which the colonists had no choice 
but to buy at advanced prices. They were prevented from making 
woolen, cotton or linen cloth for sale. Nor were they allowed to 
build furnaces to convert the native iron into steel. 

Even during the Revolution Hamilton had been impressed by the 
site of the Great Falls of the Passaic. His fertile imagination en- 
visioned a great manufacturing center, a great Federal City, to 
supply the needs of the country. Here was water-power to turn the 
mill wheels and the navigable river to carry manufactured goods to 
the market centers: a national manufactory. 

69 



Give up my money! 

—with monotonous insistence 
the falls of his harangue hung featureless 
upon the ear, yet with a certain strangeness 
as if arrested in space 

That would be a hard thing 
for me to do. What would my rich friends say? 
They'd say, That old fool Klaus Ehrens must 
be getting pretty crazy, getting rid of his 
cash. What! give up the thing Fd struggled all 
my life to pile up— so I could say I was rich? 
No! that I couldn't do. But I was troubled 
in mind. 

He paused to wipe his brow while 
the singers struck up a lively hymn tune. 

I couldn't eat, I couldn't 
sleep for thinking of my trouble so that 
when the Lord came to me the third time I was 
ready and I kneeled down before Him 
and said, Lord, do what you will with me! 

Give away your money, He said, and I 

will make you the richest man in the world! 

And I bowed my head and said to Him, Yea, Lord. 

And His blessed truth descended upon me and filled 

me with joy, such joy and such riches as I 

had nevsr in my life known to that day -and I said 

to Him, Master! 

In the Name of the Father 
and the Son and the Holy Ghost. 

Amen. 



Amen! Amen? echoed the devout assistants. 

Is this the only beauty here? 
And is this beauty- 
torn to shreds by the 
lurking schismatists? 

Where is beauty among 
these trees? 

Is it the dogs the owners 
bring here to dry their coats? 

beautiful and reflect 

no beauty but gross • • 

to be, anywhere, 
so flagrant in desire . 
The beauty of holiness, 
if this it be, 



is the only beauty 
visible in this place 
other than the view 
and a fresh budding tree. 

me long I can tell you! I threw it 
hands. And I began to feel better 




—and leaned on the parapet, thinking 



From here, one could see him— that 
tied man, that cold blooded 
murderer . April! in the distance 
being hanged. Groups at various 
vantages along the cliff . having 
gathered since before daybreak 
to witness it. 

One kills 

for money but doesn't always get it. 

Leans on the parapet thinking, while 
the preacher, outnumbered, addresses 
the leaves in the patient trees : 

The gentle Christ 
child of Pericles 
and femina practa 

Split between 
Athens and 
the amphyoxus. 

The gentle Christ- 
weed and worth 
wistfully forthright 

Weeps and is 
remembered as of 
the open tomb 

—threw it away with both hands. • until 
it was gone 

— he made a wide motion with both 
hands as of scattering money to the winds— 



— but the riches that had been given me are 
beyond ail counting. You can throw them 
carelessly about you on all sides — and still 
you will have more. For God Almighty has 
boundless resources and never fails. There is no 
end to the treasures of our Blessed Lord who 
died on the Cross for us that we may be saved. 
Amen. 



The Federal Reserve System is a private enterprise . . . a private 
monopoly . . . (with power) . . . given to it by a spineless Con- 




and lend it to private business 
(the same money over and over again at a high rate of interest) , 
and also to the Government whenever it needs money in war and 
peace; for which we, the people, representing the Government (in 
this instance at any rate) must pay interest to the banks in the form 
of high taxes. 

The bird, the eagle, made himself 

small — to creep into the hinged egg 

until therein he disappeared, all 

but one leg upon which a claw opened 

and closed wretchedly gripping 

the air, and would not — for all 

the effort of the struggle, remain 

inside 

Witnessing the Falls Hamilton was impressed by this show of 
what in those times was overwhelming power . . . planned a stone 
aqueduct following a proposed boulevard, as the crow flies, to 
Newark with outlets every mile or two along the river for 
of factories: The Society for Useful Manufactures: SUM, 
called it. 

The newspapers of the day spoke in enthusiastic terms of the fine 
prospects of the "National Manufactory" where they fondly be- 
lieved would be produced all cotton^assimeres, wall papers, books, 
and straw hats, shoes, carriages, pottery, bricks, pots, pans and 




73 



buttons needed in the United Starei,- But L'Enfant*s plans were 
more magnificent than practical and Peter Colt, Treasurer of the 
State of Connecticut* was chosen in his place. 

.... 'Hie prominent purpose of the 
Society was the manufacture of cotton goods. 

Washington at his first inaugural 

wore 

a coat of Crow-black homespun woven 
in Paterson 



In other words, the Federal Reserve Banks constitute a Legalized 
National Usury System, whose Customer No. i is our Government, 
the richest country in the world. Every one of us is paying tribute 
to the money racketeers on every dollar we earn through hard 
work. 

In all our great bond issues the interest is always 
greater than the principle. All of the great public works cost more 
than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system 
of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent to the stated 
cost. 

' The people must pay anyway; why should they be compelled to 
pay twice? The whole national debt is made up on interest 
charges. If the people ever get to thinking of bonds and bills at the 
same time, the game is up. 

If there is subtlety, 
you are subtle. I beg your indulgence: 
no prayer should cause you anything 
but tears. I had a friend ... 
let it pass. I remember when as a child 
I stopped praying and shook with fear 
until sleep — your sleep calmed me — 

You also, I am sure, have read 
Frazer's Golden Bough. It does you 
justice — a prayer such as might be made 
by a lover who 



74 



appraises every feature of his bride's 
comeliness, and terror-^ 
terror to him such as one, a man 
married, feels toward his bride— 



You are the eternal bride and 
father — quid pro quo, 
a simple miracle that knows 
the branching sea, to 
is coral, the 
The Himalai 

of your features amaze and 





le would be the search 
for you in the multiplicity 
of your debacle. The world spreads 
for me like-a flower opening— and 
will close for me as might a rose- 
wither and fall to the ground 
and rot and be drawn up 
into a flower again. But you 
never wither — but blossom 
all about me. In that I ion 




I find my 



despair! 



• ♦ • • • 



Whatever your reasons were for that note of yours and for your 
indifferent evasion of my letters just previous to that note— the one 
thing that I still wish more than any other is that I could see you. 
It's tied up with even more than I've said here. And more impor- 
tantly, it is the one impulse I have that breaks through that film, 

75 



that crust, which has gathered there so fatally between my true 
self and that which can make only mechanical gestures of living. 
But even if you should grant it, I wouldn't want to see you unless 
with some little warmth of friendliness and friendship on your 
part. . . . Nor should I want to see you at your office under any 
circumstances. That is not what I mean (because I have no specific 
matter to see you about now as I had when I first called upon you 
as a complete stranger, nor as I could have had, just before your 
last note when I wanted so badly to have you go over some of my 
most faulty poems with me), I have been feeling (with that feeling 
increasingly stronger) that I shall never again be able to recapture 
any sense of my own personal identity (without which I cannot 
write, of course— but in itself far more important than the writing) 
until I can recapture some faith in the reality of my own thoughts 
and ideas and problems which were turned into dry sand by your 
attitude toward those letters, and by that note of yours later. That 
is why I cannot throw off my desire to see you — not impersonally, 
but in the most personal ways, since I could never have written you 
at all in a completely impersonal fashion. 



76 



Look for the nul 
defeats it all 

the N of all 
equations • 

that rock, the blank 
that holds them up 



the rock's 



for that nul 



the death of all 
that's past 



But Spring shall come and flowers will bloom 
and man must chatter of his dooin . . 

The descent beckons 

as the ascent beckoned 

Memory is a kind 

of accomplishment 

a sqn of renewal 
even 

an initiation, since the spaces it opens are new 
places 

inhabited by hordes 

heretofore unrealized, 



of new kinds — 

since their movements 

are towards new objectives 
(even though formerly they were abandoned) 

No defeat is made up entirely of defeat — since 
the world it opens is always a place 
formerly 

unsuspected. A 

world lost, 

a world unsuspected 

beckons to new places 
and no whiteness (lost) is so white as the memory 
of whiteness 

With evening, love wakens 

though its shadows 

which are alive by reason 

of the sun shining — 

grow sleepy now and drop away 

from desire ♦ 

Love without shadows stirs now 
beginning to waken 
as night 

advances. 
The descent 

made up of despairs 

and without accomplishment 
realizes a new awakening : 

which is a reversal 

of despair. 



For what we cannot accomplish* what 
is denied to love, 

what we have lost in the anticipation — 

a descent follows, 

endless and indestructible 



Listen! — 



the pouring water! 

The dogs and trees 
conspire to invent 
a 



Bow, wow! A 

departing car scatters gravel as it 



Outworn! le pauvre petit ministre 
did his best, they cry, 
but though he sweat for all his 
no poet has come 

Bow, wow! Bow, wow! 

Variously the dogs barked, the trees 
stuck their fingers to their noses. No 
poet has come, no poet has come. 
— soon no one in the park but 
guilty lovers and stray dogs 



Unleashed! 



watching the May moon 

trees 



At nine o'clock the park closes. You 
must be out of the lake, dressed, in 
your cars and going: they change into 
their street clothes in the back seats 
and move out among the trees • 



The "great beast" all removed 

before the plunging night, the crickets* 

black wings and hylas wake 

Missing was the thing Jim had found in Marx and Veblen and 
Adam Smith and Darwin — the dignified sound of a great, calm bell 
tolling the morning of a new age . . instead, 

the slow complaining of a door loose on its hinges. 

Faitoute, conscious by moments, 
rouses by moments, rejects him finally 
and strolls off • 

That the poem, 
the most perfect rock and temple, the highest 
falls, in clouds of gauzy spray, should be 
so rivaled . that the poet, 
in disgrace, should borrow from erudition (to 
unslave the mind): railing at the vocabulary 
(borrowing from those he hates, to his own 
disfranchisement) 
— discounting his failures 
seeks to induce his bones to rise into a scene, 
his dry bones, above the scene, (they will not) 
illuminating it within itself, out of itself 
to form the colors, in the terms of some 
back street, so that the history may escape 
the panders 



80 



accomplish the inevitable 
poor, the invisible, thrashing, breeding 
debased city 

Love is no comforter, rather a nail in the 
skull 

reversed in the mirror of its 
own squalor, debased by the divorce from learning, 
its garbage on the curbs, its legislators 
under the garbage, uninstructed, incapable of 
self instruction . 

a thwarting, an avulsion : 

—flowers uprooted, columbine, yellow and red, 
strewn upon the path; dogwoods in full flower, 
the trees disn\emberedf its women 
shallow, its men steadfastly refusing — at 
the best . 

The language . words 
without style! whose scholars (there are none) 

or dangling, about whom 
the water weaves its strands encasing them 
in a sort of thick lacquer, lodged 
under its flow 

Caught (in mind) 
beside the water he looks down, listens! 
But discovers, still, no syllable in the confused 
uproar: missing the sense (though he tries) 
untaught but listening, shakes with the intensity 
of his listening * 



Only the thought of the stream comforts him, 
its terrifying plunge, inviting marriage — and 
a wreath of fur 



And She — 



Stones invent nothing, only a man invents. 
What answer the waterfall? filling 
the, basin by the snag-toothed stones? 



And He * — 




new, uninterpreted, that 
mring down 



And she 



It has not been enacted in our day! 



Le 



paiwre petit ministre, swinging his arms, drowns 
under the indifferent fragrance of the bass-wood 
trees 



My feelings about you now are those of anger and indignation; and 
they enable me to tell you a lot of things straight from the shoulder, 
without my usual tongue tied round-aboutness. 

You might as well take all your own literature and everyone else's 
and toss it into , one of those big garbage trucks of the Sanitation 
Department, so long as the people with the top-cream minds and 
the "finer" sensibilities use those minds and sensibilities not to make 
themselves more humane human beings than the average person, 
but merely as means of ducking responsibility toward a better 
understanding of their fellow men, except theoretically— which 
doesn't mean a God damned thing. 



and there go the Evangels! (their organ 
into the rear of a light truck) scooting 
the children 
are at least getting a kick out of this! 



82 



His anger mounts. He is chilled to the bone. 

As there appears a dwarf, hideously deformed — 

he sees squirming roots trampled : 

under the foliage of his mind by the holiday 

crowds as by the feet of the straining 

minister. From his eyes sparrows start and 

sing. His ears are toadstools, his fingers have 

begun to sprout leaves (his voice is drowned 

under the falls) 

Poet, poet! sing your song, quickly! or 
not insects but pulpy weeds will blot out 
your kind. 

He all but falls * . 

And She — 

Marry us! Marry us! 

Or! be dragged down, dragged 
under and lost 

She was married wkh empty words: 

better to 
stumble at 
the edge 
to fall 

and be 

— divorced* 

from the insistence of place- 

from knowledge, 

from learning — the terms 

foreign, conveying no immediacy, pouring down. 



83 



—divorced 

from rime (no invention more), bald as an 
egg • 

and leaped (or fell) without a 
language, tongue-tied 

the language worn out 



The dwarf lived there, close to the waterfall — 
saved by his protective coloring. 

Go home. Write. 



Be reconciled, poet, with your world, it is 
the^only truth! 



— the language is worn out. 

And She — 

You have abandoned me! 

— at the magic sound of the stream 

she threw herself upon the bed — 

a pitiful gesture! lost among the words: 

Invent (if you can) discover or 

nothing is clear — will surmount 

the drumming in your head. There will be 

nothing clear, nothing clear . 

He fled pursued by the roar. 

Seventy-five of the. world's leading scholars, poets and philos- 
ophers gathered at Princeton last week 

84 



Faitoute ground his heel 
hard down on the stone: 

Sunny today, with, the highest temperature near 80 degrees; mod- 
erate southerly winds. Partly cloudy and continued warm tomorrow, 
with moderate southerly winds. 

Her belly , her belly is like 
a cloud . a cloud 

at evening • 

His mind would reawaken: 

He Me with my pants, coat and vest still on! 

She And me still in my galoshes! 

— the descent follows the ascent — to wisdom 
as to despair. 

A man is under the crassest necessity 

to break down the pinnacles of his moods 

fearlessly — 

to the bases; base! to the screaming dregs, 
to have known the clean air 
From that base, unabashed, to regain 
the sun kissed summits of love! 

— obscurely 

in to scribble . arid a war won! 

—-saying over to himself a song written 
previously . inclines to believe 
he sees, in the structure, something 

of interest: 



85 



On this most voluptuous night of the year 
the term of the moon is yellow with no light 
the air's soft, the night bird has 
only one note, the cherry tree in bloom „ 

makes a ,blur on the woods, its perfume 

no more than half guessed moves in the mind. 

No insect is yet awake, leaves are few. 

In the arching trees there is no sleep. 

The blood is still and indifferent, the face 
does not ache nor sweat soil nor the 
mouth thirst. Now love might enjoy its play 
and nothing disturb the full octave of its run. 

Her belly . her belly is like a white <:loud • a 
white cloud at evening . before the shuddering night! 



My attitude toward woman's wretched position in society and 
my ideas about all the changes necessary there, were interesting to 
you, weren't they, in so far as they made for literature? That my 
particular emotional orientation, in wrenching myself free from 
patterned standardized feminine feelings, enabled me to do some 
passably good work with 'poetry— ^Xi. that was fine, wasn't it — some- 
thing for you to sit up and take notice of! And you saw in one of 
my first letters to you (the one you had wanted to make use of, 
then, in the Introduction to your Paterson) an indication that my 
thoughts were to be taken seriously, because that too could be 
turned by you into literature, as something disconnected from life. 

But when my actual personal life crept in, stamped all over with 
the very same attitudes and sensibilities and preoccupations that you 
found quite admirable as literature— -that was an entirely different 
matter, wasn't it? No longer admirable, but, on the contrary, de- 
plorable, annoying, stupid, or in some other way unpardonable; 
because those very ideas and feelings which make one a writer with 
some kind of new vision, are often the very same ones which, in 
living itself, make one clumsy, awkward, absurd, ungrateful, con- 
fidential where most people are reticent, and reticent where one 



86 



should be confidential, and which cause one, all too often, to step 
on the toes of other people's sensitive egos as a result of one's 
stumbling earnestness or honesty carried too far. And that they are 
the very same ones — that's important, something to be remembered 
at all times, especially by writers like yourself who are so sheltered 
from life in the raw by the glass-walled conditions of their own 
safe lives. 

Only my writing (when I write) is myself: only that is the real 
me in any essential way. Not because I bring to literature and to 
life two different inconsistent sets of values, as you do. No, / don't 
do that; and I feel that when anyone does do it, literature is turned 
into just so much intellectual excrement fit for the same stinking 
hole as any other kind. 

But in writing (as in all forms of creative art) one derives one's 
unity of being and one's freedom to be one's self, from one's rela- 
tionship to those particular externals (language, clay, paints, et 
cetera) over which one has complete control and the shaping of 
which lies entirely in one's own power; whereas in living, one's 
shaping of the externals involved, there . (of one's friendships, the 
structure of society, et cetera) is no longer entirely within one's 
own power but requires the cooperation and the understanding and 
the humanity of others in order to bring out what is best and most 
real in one's self. 

That's why all that fine talk of yours about woman's need to 
"sail free in her own element" as a poet, becomes nothing but empty 
rhetoric in the light of your behavior towards me. No woman will 
ever be able to do that, completely, until she is able first to "sail free 
in her own element" in living itself — which means in her relation- 
ships with men even before she can do so in her relationships with 
other women. The members of any underprivileged class distrust 
and hate the "outsider" who is one of them, and women therefore — 
women in general — will never be content with their lot until the 
light seeps down to them, not from one of their own, but from the 
eyes of changed male attitudes toward them — so that in the mean- 
time, the problems and the awareness of a woman like myself are 
looked upon even more unsympathetically by other women than 
by men. 

And that, my dear doctor, is another reason why I needed of you 
a very different kind of friendship from the one you offered me. 

I still don't know of course the specific thing that caused the 
cooling of your friendliness toward me. But I do know that if you 
were going to bother with me at all, there were only two things 
for you to have considered: (i) that I was, as I still am, a woman 
dying of loneliness — yes, really dying of it almost in the same way 
that people die slowly of cancer or consumption or any other such 



87 



disease (and with all my efficiency in the practical world continu- 
ally undermined by that loneliness); and (r) that I needed des- 
perately, and still do, some ways and means of leading a writer's 
life, either by securing some sort of writer's job (or any other job 
having to do with my cultural interests) or else through some kind 
of literary journalism such as the book reviews— because only in 
work and jobs of that kind, can I turn into assets what are liabilities 
for me in jobs of a different kind. 

Those were the two problems of mine that you continually and 
almost deliberately placed in the background of your attempts to 
help me. And yet they were, and remain, much greater than whether 
or not I get my poetry published. I didn't need the publication of 
my poetry with your name lent to it, in order to go on writing 
poetry, half as much as I needed your friendship in other ways (the 
very ways you ignored) in order to write it. I couldn't, for that 
reason, have brought the kind of responsiveness and appreciation 
that you expected of me (not with any real honesty) to the kind 
of help from you which 1 needed so much less than the kind you 
withheld. 

Your whole relationship with me amounted to pretty much the 
same thing as your trying to come to the aid of a patient suffering 
from pneumonia by handing her a box of aspirin or Grove's cold 
pills and a glass of hot lemonade. I couldn't tell you that outright. 
And how were you, a man of letters, to have realized it when the 
imagination, so quick to assert itself most powerfully in the creation 
of a piece of literature, seems to have no power at all in enabling 
writers in your circumstances to fully understand the maladjust- 
ment and impotencies of a woman in my position? 

When you wrote to me up in W. about that possible censor job, 
it seemed a very simple matter to you, didn't it, for me to make all 
the necessary inquiries about the job, arrange for the necessary 
interviews, ^tart work (if I was hired) with all the necessary living 
conditions for holding down such a job, and thus find my life all 
straightened out in its practical aspects,' at least — as if by magic? 

But it's never so simple as that to get on one's feet even in the 
most ordinary practical ways, for anyone on my side of the railway 
tracks— which isn't your side, nor the side of your great admirer, 
Miss Fleming, nor even the side of those well cared for people like 
S. T. and S. S. who've spent most of their lives with some Clara or 
some Jeanne to look after them even when they themselves have 
been flat broke. 

A completely down and out person with months of stripped, bare 
hardship behind him needs all kinds of things to even get himself 
in shape for looking for a respectable, important white-collar job. 
And then he needs ample funds for eating and sleeping and keeping 

88 



up appearances (especially the latter) while going around for vari- 
ous interviews involved. And even if and when a job of that kind is 
obtained, he still needs the eating and the sleeping and the carfares 
and the keeping up of appearances and what not, waiting for his 
first pay check and even perhaps for the second pay check since 
the first one might have to go almost entirely for back rent or some- 
thing else of that sort. 

And all that takes a hell of a lot of money (especially for a 
woman) — a lot more than ten dollars or twenty five dollars. Or 
else it takes the kind of very close friends at whose apartment one 
is quite welcome to stay for a month or two, and whose typewriter 
one can use in getting off some of the required letters asking for 
interviews, and whose electric iron one can use in keeping one's 
clothes pressed, et cetera — the kind of close friends that I don't have 
and never have had, for reasons which you know. 

Naturally, I couldn't turn to you, a stranger, for any such prac- 
tical help on so large a scale; and it was stupid of me to have mini- 
mized the extent of help I needed when I asked you for that first 
money-order that got stolen and later for the second twenty five 
dollars; — stupid because it was misleading. But the different kind of 
help I asked for, finally (and which you placed in the background) 
would have been an adequate substitute, because I could have car- 
ried out those plans which I mentioned to you in the late fall (the 
book reviews, supplemented by almost any kind of part-time job, 
and later some articles, and maybe a month at Yaddo this summer) 
without what it takes to get on one's feet in other very different 
ways. And the, eventually, the very fact that my name had ap- 
peared here and there in the book review sections of a few publi- 
cations (I'd prefer not to use poetry that way) would have enabled 
me to obtain certain kinds of jobs (such as an O. W. I. job for in- 
stance) without all that red tape which affects only obscure, un- 
known people. 

The anger and the indignation which I feel towards you now 
has served to pierce through the rough ice of that congealment 
which my creative faculties began to suffer from as a result of that 
last note from you. I find myself thinking and feeling in terms of 
poetry again. But over and against that is the fact that Fm even 
more lacking in anchorage of any kind than when I first got to 
know you. My loneliness is a million fathoms deeper, and my phys- 
ical energies even more seriously sapped by it; and my economic 
situation is naturally worse, with living costs so terribly high now, 
and with my contact with your friend Miss X having come off so 
badly. 

However, she may have had another reason for paying no atten- 
tion to that note of mine — perhaps the reason of having found out 



89 



that your friendliness toward me had cooled — which would have 
made a difference to her, I suppose, since she is such a great "ad- 
mirer" of yours. But I don't know. That I*m in the dark about, too; 
and when I went up to the "Times" last week, to try, on my own, to 
get some of their fiction reviews (the "Times" publishes so many 
of those), nothing came of that either. And it's writing that I want 
to do — not operating a machine or a lathe, because with literature 
more and more tied up with the social problems and social progress 
(for me, in my way of thinking) any contribution I might be able 
to make to the wellfare of humanity (in war-time or peace-time) 
would have to be as a writer, and not as a factory worker. 

When I was very young, ridiculously young (of school-girl age) 
for a critical role, with my mind not at all developed and all my 
ideas in a state of first-week embryonic formlessness, I was able to 
obtain book-reviews from any number of magazines without any 
difficulty— and all of them books by writers of accepted impor- 
tance (such as Cummings, Babette Deutsch, H. D.) whereas now 
when my ideas have matured, and when I really have something to 
say, I can get no work of that kind at all. And why is that? It's 
because in all those intervening years, I have been forced, as a 
woman not content with woman's position in the world, to do a 
lot of pioneer living which writers of your sex and with your 
particular social background do not have thrust upon them, and 
which the members of my own sex frown upon (for reasons I've 
already referred to) — so that at the very moment when I wanted 
to return to writing from living (with my ideas clarified and en- 
riched by Jiving) there I was (and still am) — because of that living 
— completely in exile socially. 

I glossed over and treated very lightly (in my first conversation 
with you) those literary activities of my early girlhood, because 
the work in itself was not much better than that which any talented 
college freshman or precocious prep-school senior contributes to 
her school paper. But, after all, that work, instead of appearing in 
a school paper where it belonged, was taken so seriously by editors 
of the acceptably important literary publications of that time, that 
I was able to average as much as $15 a week, very easily, from it. 
And I go into that now and stress it here; because you can better 
imagine, in the light of that, just how I feel in realizing that on the 
basis of just a few superficial (such as possessing a lot of appeal- 
ingly youthful sex-appeal and getting in with the right set) I was 
able to maintain my personal identity as a writer in my relationship 
to the world, whereas now I am cut off from doing so because it 
was necessary for me in my living, to strip myself of those super- 
ficials. 



90 




You Ve never had to live. Dr. P— not in any of the by-ways and 
dark underground passages where life so often has to be tested. 
The very circumstances of your birth and social background pro- 
vided you with an escape from life in the raw; and you confuse that 
protection from life with an inability to live — and are thus able to 
regard literature as nothing more than a desperate last extremity 
resulting from that illusionary inability to live. (IVe been looking 
at some of your autobiographical works, as this indicates.) 

Imean) isn't something one just sks 
about. It happens to one, in a small way, like 
measles; or in a big way, like a leaking boat or an earthquake. Or 
else it doesn't happen. And when it does, then one must bring, as I 
must, one's life to literature; and when it doesn't then one brings to 
life (as you do) purely literary sympathies and understandings, the 
insights and humanity of words on paper only— and also, alas, the 
ego of the literary man which most likely played an important part 
in the change of your attitude toward me. That literary man's ego 
wanted to help me in such a way, I think, that my own achieve- 
ments might serve as a flower in his buttonhole, if that kind of help 
had been enough to make me bloom. 

But I have no blossoms to bring to any man in the way of either 
love or friendship. That's one of the reasons why I didn't want that 
introduction to my poems. And I'm not wanting to be nasty or 
sarcastic in the last lines of this letter. On the contrary a feeling of 
profound sadness has replaced now the anger and the indignation 
with which I started to write all this. I wanted your friendship more 
than I ever wanted anything else (yes, more, and I've wanted other 
I wanted it desperately, not because I have a single 
which to adorn any man's pride— but just because I 
haven't. 

Yes. the anger which I imagined myself to feel on all the previous 
pages, was false. I am too unhappy and too lonely to be angry; and 

if some of the things to which I have called your attention here 
should cause any change of heart in you regarding me, that would 
be just about the only thing I can conceive of as occurring in my 
life right now. 

La votre 

C 




P. S. That I'm back here at 21 Pine Street causes me to add that 
that mystery as to who forged the "Cress" on that money order 
and also took one of Brown's checks (though his was not cashed, 
and therefore replaced later) never did get cleared up. And the 



91 



janitor who was here at the time, is dead now. I don't think it was 
he took any of the money. But still I was rather glad that the post- 
office didn't follow it through because just in case Bob did have 
anything to do with it, he would have gotten, into serious trouble — 
which I shouldn't have welcomed, because he was one of those 
miserably underpaid negroes and an awfully decent human being 
in lots of ways. But now I wish it had been followed through after 
he died (which was over two months ago) because the crooks may 
have been those low vile upstate farm people whose year-round 
exploitation of down and out farm help ought to be brought to 
light in some fashion, and because if they did steal the money order 
and were arrested for it, that in itself would have brought to the 
attention of the proper authorities all their other illegal activities 
as well: And yet that kind of justice doesn't interest me greatly. 
What's at the root of this or that crime or antisocial act, both 
psychologically and environmentally, always interests me more. 
But as I make that last statement, I'm reminded of how much I'd like 
to do a lot of things with people in some prose — some stories, maybe 
a novel. I can't tell you how much I want the living which I need 
in order to write. And I simply can't achieve them entirely alone. 
I don't even possess a typewriter now, nor have even a rented one 
— and I can't think properly except on a typewriter. I can do poetry 
(though only the. first draft) in long-hand, and letters. But for any 
prose writing, other than letters, I can't do any work without a 
typewriter. But that of course is the least of my problems— the 
typewriter; at least the easiest to do something about. 

C 

Dr. P.: 

This is the simplest, most outright letter I've ever written to you; 
and you ought to read it all the way through, and carefully, be- 
cause it's about you, as a writer, and about the ideas regarding 
women that you expressed in your article on A. N M and because 
in regard to myself, it contains certain information which I did not 
think it necessary to give you before, and which I do think now 
you ought to have. And if my anger in the beginning makes you 
too angry to go on from there — well, that anger of mine isn't there 
in the last part, now as I attach this post-script. 

And if you don't (eel like reading it even for those reasons, will you 
then do so, please, merely out of fairness to me— much time and 
much thought and much unhappiness having gone into those pages. 



92 



Book Three 



^ 



Gties, for Oliver, were not a part of nature. He 
could hardly feel, he could hardly admit even when 
it was pointed out to him, that cities are a second 
body for the human mind, a second organism, more 
rational, permanent and decorative than the animal 
organism of flesh and bone: a work of natural yet 
moral art, where the soul sets up her trophies of ac- 
tion and instruments of pleasure. , 

—The Last Puritan. Santayana. 



94 



The Library 



I love the locust tree 
the sweet white locust 

How much? 

How much? 
How much does it cost 
to love the locust tree 

in bloom? 

A fortune bigger than 
Avery could muster 

So much 

So much 
the shelving green 

locust 

whose bright small leaves 

in June 
lean among flowers 
sweet and white at 

heavy cost 

A cool of books 
will sometimes lead the mind to libraries 
of a hot afternoon, if books can be found 
cool to the sense to lead the mind away. 

For there is a wind or ghost of a wind 

in all books echoing the life 

there, a high wind that fills the tubes 

of the ear until we think we hear a wind, 

actual 



to lead the mind away* 



Drawn from the streets we break off 
our minds' seclusion and are taken up by 
the books' winds, seeking, seeking 
down the wind 

until we are unaware which is the wind and 
which the wind's power over us 

to lead the mind away 

and there grows in the mind 

a scent, it may be, of locust blossoms 

whose perfume is itself a wind moving 

to lead the mind away 

through which, below the cataract 

soon to be dry 

the river whirls and eddys 

first recollected. 

Spent from wandering the useless 
streets these months, faces folded against 
him like clover at nightfall, something 
has brought him back to his own 

mind • 

in which a falls unseen 
tumbles and rights itself 
and refalls— and does not cease, falling 
and refalling with a roar, a reverberation 
not of the falls but of its rumor 

unabated 

Beautiful thing, 
my dove, unable and all who are windblown, 
touched by the fire 

and unable, 



a roar that (soundless) drowns the sense 
with its reiteration 

unwilling to lie in its bed 
and sleep and sleep, sleep 

in its dark bed. 

Summer! it is summer . 

— and still the roar in his mind is 

unabated 

The last wolf was killed near the Weisse Huis in the year 1723 

Books will give rest sometimes against 
the uproar of water falling 
and righting itself to rSfall filling 
the mind with its reverberation 

shaking stone. 

Blow! So be it. Bring down! So be it. Consume 
and submerge! So be it. Cyclone, fire 
and flood. So be it. Hell, New Jersey, it said 
on the letter. Delivered without comment. 
So be it! 

Run from it, if you will. So be it, 
(Winds that enshroud us in their folds — 
or no wind). So be it. Pull at the doors, of a hot 
afternoon, doors that the wind holds, wrenches 
from our arms — and hands. So be it. The Library 
is sanctuary to our fears. So be it. So be it. r 

— the wind that has tripped us, pressed upon 
us, prurient or upon the prurience of our fears 

— laughter fading. So be it. 

Sit breathless 
or still breathless. So be it. Then, eased 
turn to the task. So be it 1 

Old newspaper flies, 



97 



to find — a child burned in a field, 
no language. Tried, aflame, to crawl under 
a fence to go home. So be it. Two others, 
boy and girl, clasped in each others' arms 
(clasped also by the water) So be it. Drowned 
wordless in the canal. So be it. The Paterson 
Cricket Club, 1896. A woman lobbyist. So 
be it. Two local millionaires — moved away. 
So be it. Another Indian rock shelter 
found — a bone awl. So be it. The 
old Rogers Locomotive Works. So be it. 
Shield us from loneliness. So be it. The mind 
reels, starts back amazed from the reading • 
So be it. 

He turns: over his right shoulder 
a vague outline, speaking 

Gently! Gently! 
as in all things an opposite 

that awakes 
the fury, conceiving 

knowledge 
by way of despair that has 

noplace 
to lay its glossy head — 

Save only — not alone! 

Never, if possible 
alone! to escape the accepted 

chopping block 
and a square hat ! • 

The "Castle" too to be razed. So be it. For no 
reason other than that it is there y in- 
comprehensible; of no USE! So be it. So be it. 




Lambert, the poor English boy, 
;rant, who built it 
was the first 

to oppose the unions: 




This is MY shop. I reserve the right (and he did) 
to walk down the row (between his looms) and 
fire any son-of-a-bitch I choose without excuse 
or reason more than that I don't like his face. 

Rose and I didn't know each other when we both went to the 
Paterson strike around the first war and worked in the Pagent. She 
went regularly to feed Jack Reed in jail and I listened to Big Bill 
Haywood, Gurley Flynn and the rest of the big hearts and helping 
hands in Union Hall. And look at the damned thing now. 

They broke him all right 

--the" old boy himself, a Limey, 
his head full of castles, the pivots of that 
curt dialectic (while it lasted), built himself a 
Balmoral on the alluvial silt, the rock-fall skirt- 
ing the volcanic upthrust of the "Mountain" 



of the main house illuminated by translucent 
laminae of planed pebbles (his first wife 
admired them) by far the most authentic detail 
of the place; at least the best 
to be had there and the best artifact 

The province of the poem is the world. 
When the sun rises, it rises in the poem 
and when it sets darkness comes down 
and the poem is dark . 



— some of the windows 



99 



and lamps arc lit, cats prowl and men 
read, read — or mumble and stare 
at that which their small lights distinguish 
or obscure or their hands search out 

in the dark. The poem moves them or 
it does not move them. Faitoute, his ears 
ringing . no sound . no great city, 
as he seems to read — 

a roar of books 
from the wadded library oppresses him 

until 

his mind begins to drift 

Beautiful thing: 

— a dark flame, 
a wind, a flood — counter to all staleness. 

Dead men's dreams, confined by these walls, risen, 

seek an outlet. The spirit languishes, 

unable, unable not from lack of innate ability — 

(barring alone sure death) 

but from that which immures them pressed here 
together with their fellows, for respite 

Flown in from before the cold or nightbound 
(the light attracted them) 

they sought safety (in books) 
but ended battering against glass 

at the high windows 

The Library is desolation, it has a smell of its own 
of stagnation and death 



Beautiful Thing! 

— the cost of dreams. 

in which we search, after a surgery 
of the wits and must translate, quickly 
step by step or be destroyed — under a s\ 
to remain a 




cutting the mind away 

SILENCE! 

Awake, he dozes in a fever heat, 
cheeks burning . • loaning blood 
to the past, amazed • risking life* 

And as his mind fades, joining the others, he 
seeks to bring *it back — but it 
eludes him, flutters again and flies off and 
again away ♦ 



the lash and hiss of water 



The sea! 
near it was to therjarf^Si 
Soon! 




— and still 




it back, battering 
vents and hii 



101 



(They do not yield but shriek 

as furies, 

shriek and execrate the imagination, the impotent, 
a woman against a woman, seeking to destroy 
it but cannot, the life will not out of it) 

A library — of books! decrying all books 
that enfeeble the mind's intent 

Beautiful thing! 

The Indians were accused of killing two or three pigs — this was 
untrue, as afterward proved, because the pigs had been butchered 
by the white men themselves. The following incident is concerned 
with two of the Indians who had been captured by Kieft's soldiers 
because of the accusations: The braves had been turned over to the 
soldiers, by Kieft, to do with as they pleased. 

The first of these savages, having received a frightful wound, 
desired them to permit him to dance the Kinte Kaye, a religious use 
among them before death; he received, however, so many wounds 
that he dropped dead. The soldiers then cut strips down the other's 
body. . . . While this was going forward Director Kieft, with his 
Councillor (the first trained physician in the colony) Jan de la 
Montagne, a Frenchman, stood laughing heartily at the fun, and 
rubbing his right arm, so much delight he took in such scenes. He 
then ordered him (the brave) to be taken out of the fort, and the 
soldiers bringing him to the Beaver's Path, he dancing the Kinte 
Kaye all the time, mutilated him, and at last cut off his head. 

There stood at the same time, 24 or 25 female savages, who had 
been taken prisoners, at the north-west corner of the fort: they held 
up their arms, and in their language exclaimed, "For shame! for 
shame! such unheard of cruelty was never known, or even thought 
of* among us." 

They made money of sea-shells. Bird feathers. Beaver skins. When 
a priest died and was buried they encased him with such wealth as 
he possessed. The Dutch dug up the body, stole the furs and left the 
carcass to the wolves that roamed the woods. 

Doc, listen — fiftyish, a grimy hand 
pushing back the cap: In gold — 
Volunteers of America 



102 



I got 

a woman outside I want to marry, will 
you give her a blood test? 

From 1869 to 1879 several crossed the falls on a tight rope (in the 
old pictures the crowd, below, on the dry rocks in their short sleeves 
and summer dresses look more like water-lilies or penguins than men 
and women staring up at them) : De Lave, Harry Leslie and Geo. 
Dobbs— the last carrying a boy upon his shoulders. Fleetwood Miles, 
a semi-lunatic, announced that he too would perform the feat but 
could not be found when the crowd had assembled. 

The place sweats of staleness and of rot 
a back-house stench . a 
library stench 

It is summer! stinking summer 

Escape from it — but not by running 

away. Not by "composition." Embrace the 

foulness 

— the being taut, balanced between 
eternities 

A spectator on Morris Mountain, when Leslie had gone out with 
a cookstove strapped to his back — tugged at one of the guy-ropes, 
either out of malice or idleness, so that he almost fell off. Having 
carried the stove to the center of the rope he kindled a fire in it, 
cooked an omelet and ate it. It rained that night so that the later 
performance had to be postponed. , 

But on Monday he did the Washerwoman's Frolic, in female attire, 
staggering drunkenly across the chasm, going backward, hopping on 
one foot and at the rope's center lay down on his side. He retired 
after that having "busted" his tights — to the cottage above for re- 
pairs. 

The progress of the events was transmitted over the new telephone 
to the city from the tower of the water works. The boy, Tommy 
Walker, was the real hero of these adventures. 



103 



And as reverie gains and 

your joints loosen 

the trick's done! 
Day is covered and we see you— 

but not alone! 
drunk and bedraggled to release 

the strictness of beauty 
under a sky full of stars 

Beautiful thing 
and a slow moon — 

The car 

had stopped long since 

when the others 
came and dragged those out 

who had you there 

indifferent 
to whatever the anesthetic 

Beautiful Thing 
might slum away the bars*— 

Reek of it! 

What does it matter? 

could set free 
only the one thing— 

But you! 

—in your white lace dress 
• • • 

Haunted by your beauty (I said), 
exalted and not easily to be attained, the 
whole scene is haunted: 

Take off your clothes, 

(I said) 

Haunted, the quietness of your face 
is a quietness, real 



out of no book. 

Your clothes (I said) quickly, while 
your beauty is attainable. 

Put them on the chair 
(I said. Then in a fury, for which I am 
ashamed) 

You smell as though you need 
a bath. Take off your clothes and purify 
yourself 

And let me purify myself 

— to look at you, 
to look at you (I said) 

(Then, my anger rising) TAKE OFF YOUR 

CLOTHES! I didn't ask you 

to take off your skin . I said your 

clothes, your clothes. You smell 

like a whore. I ask you to bathe in my 

opinions, the astonishing virtue of your 

lost body (I said) 

—that you might 
send me hurtling to the moon 

let me look at you (I 
said, weeping) 

Let's take a ride around, to see what the town looks like 

Indifferent, the indifference of certain death 
or incident upon certain death 
propounds a riddle (in the Joyceian mode — 

or otherwise, 

it is indifferent which) 

A marriage riddle: 



105 



So much talk of the language — when there are no 
ears. 



What is there to say? save that 

beauty is unheeded . tho* for sale and 

bought glibly enough 

But it is. true, they fear 
it more than death, beauty is feared 
more than death, more than they fear death" 

Beautiful thing 

— and marry only to destroy, in private, in 
their privacy only to destroy, to hide 

(in marriage) 
that they may destroy and not be perceived 
in it — the destroying 

Death will be too late to bring us aid . 

What end but love, that stares death in the eye? 
A city, a marriage — that stares death 
in the eye 

The riddle of a man and a woman 

For what is there but love, that stares death 
in the eye, love, begetting marriage — 
not infamy, not death 

tho* love seem to beget 
only death in the old plays, only death, it is 
as tho' they wished death rather than to face 
infamy, the infamy of old cities 



• <• • a world of corrupt cities, 
nothing else, that death stares in the eye, 
lacking love: no palaces, no secluded gardens, 
no water among the stones; the stone rails 
of the balustrades, scooped out, running with 
clear water, no peace . 

The waters 

are dry. It is summer, it is • ended 

Sing me a song to make death tolerable, a song 
of a man and a woman: the riddle of a man 
and a woman. 

What language could allay our thirsts, 
what winds lift us, what floods bear us 

past defeats 

but song but deathless song ? 
The rock 

married to the river 

makes 

ho sound 

And the river 
passes — but I remain 
clamant 

calling out ceaselessly 
to the birds 
and clouds 

(listening) 

Who am I? 



— the voice! 



— the voice rises, neglected 
(with its new) the unfaltering 
language. Is there no release? 

Give it up. Quit it. Stop writing. 
"Saintlike" you will never 
separate that stain of sense, 

an offense 
to love, the mind's worm eating 
out the core, unappeased 

— never separate that stain 

of sense from the inert mass. Never. 

Never that radiance 

quartered apart, 
unapproached by symbols 

Doctor, do you believe in 
"the people," the Democracy? Do 
you still believe — in this 
swill-hole of corrupt cities? 
Do you, Doctor? Now? 

Give up 

the poem. Give up the shilly- 
shally of art. 

What can you, what 
can YOU hope to conclude — 
on a heap of dirty linen? 

— you 

a poet (ridded) from Paradise? 



Is it a dirty book? I'll bet 
it's a dixty book, she said. 

Death lies in wait, 
a kindly brother — 
full of the missing words, 
the words that never get said — 
a kindly brother to the poor. 
The radiant gist that 
resists the final crystallization 

in the pitch-blend 
the radiant gist 

There was an earlier day, of prismatic colors : whence 
to New Barbadoes came the Englishman 

Thus it began . 

Certainly there is no mystery to the fact 

that Costs Spiral According to a Rebus — known 

or unknown, plotted or automatic. The fact 

of poverty is not a matter of argument. Language 

is not a vague province. There is a poetry 

of the movements of cost, known or unknown . 

The cost. The cost 

and dazzled half sleepy eyes 

Beautiful thing 
of some trusting animal 

makes a temple 
of its place of savage slaughter 
• ••••• 

Try another book. Break through 
the dry air of the place 



109 



An insane god 

—nights in a brothel 

And if I had » 
What then? 

— made brothels my home? 
(Toulouse Lautrec 
again. • ) 

Say I am the locus 

where two women meet 

One from the backwoods 

a touch of the savage 

and of XB. 

(a scar on the thigh) 
The other — wanting, 

from an old culture • 
— and offer the same dish 

different ways 

Let the colors run 

Toulouse Lautrec witnessed 
it: limbs relaxed 
—all religions 

have excluded it — 
at ease, the tendons 
untensed 

And so he recorded them 

— a stone 

thrust flint-blue 

up through the sandstone 

of which, broken, 

but unbreakable 
we build our roads 



Fire burns; that is the first law. 
When a wind fans it the flames 

are carried abroad. Talk 
fans the flames. They have 

manoeuvred it so that to write 
is a fire and not only of the blood. 

The writing is nothing, the being 
in a position to write (that's 

where they get you) is nine tenths 
of the difficulty: seduction 

or strong arm stuff. The writing 
should be a relief, 

relief from the conditions 

which as we advance become— a fire, 

a destroying fire. For the writing 
is also an attack and means must be 

found to scotch it — at the root 
if possible. So that 

to write, nine tenths of the problem 
is to live. They see 

to it, not by intellection but 

by sub-intellection (to want to be 

blind as a pretext for 

saying, We're so proud of you! 



A wonderful gift! How do 
you find the time for it in 

your busy life? It must be a great 
thing to have such a pastime. 

■ 

But you were always a strange 
boy. How's your mother? ) 

— the cyclonic fury, the fire, 
the leaden flood and finally 
the cost — 

Your father was such a nice man. 
I remember him well 

Or, Geeze, Doc, I guess it's all right 
but what the hell does it mean? 

With due ceremony a hut would be constructed consisting of 
twelve poles, each of a different species of wood. These they run 
into the ground, tie them together at the top, cover them entirely 
with bark, skins or blankets joined close together. . Now here 
is where one sits who will address the Spirit of Fire, He- Who-Lies- 
Witli-His-Eyes-Bulging-In-The-Smoke-Hole . Twelve 
manittos attend him as subordinate deities, half representing animals 
and the others vegetables. A large oven is built in the house of sacri- 
fice . heated with twelve large red-hot stones. 

Meanwhile an old man throws twelve pipefuls of tobacco upon the 
hot stones, and directly another follows and pours water on them, 
which occasions a smoke or vapor almost powerful enough to 
suffocate the persons in the tent — 

Ex qua re, quia sicubi fumus adscendit in altum; ita sacrificulus, 
duplicata altiori voce, Kamtaka, karmaka! vel aliquando Hoo Hoo! 
faciem versus orientem convertit. 

Whereupon as the smoke ascends on high, the sacrificer crying 
with a loud voice, Kannaka, Kannaka! or sometimes Hoo> Hoo! 
turns his face towards the east. 

While some are silent during the sacrifice, certain make a 
ridiculous speech, while others imitate the cock, the squirrel and 
other animals, and make all kinds of noises. During the shouting 
two roast deer are distributed. 



114 



I 



(breathing the books in) 

the acrid fumes, 

for what they could decipher . 
warping the sense to detect the norm, to break 
through the skull of custom 

to a place hidden from 
affection, women and offspring — an affection 
for the burning • 

It started in the car barns of the street railway company, in die 
paint shop. The men had been working all day refinishing old cars 
with the doors and windows kept closed because of the weather 
which was very cold. There was paint and especially varnish being 
used freely on all sides. Heaps of paint soaked rags had been thrown 
fcito the corners. One of the cars took fire in the night. 

Breathless and in haste 

the various night (of books) awakes! awakes 
and begins (a second time) its song, pending the 
obloquy of dawn 

It will not last forever 
against the long sea, the long, long 
sea, swept by winds, the "wine-dark sea" 

A cyclotron, a sifting 

And there, 
in the tobacco hush : in a tepee they lie 
huddled (a huddle of books) 

antagonistic, 

and dream of 
gentleness — under the malignity of the hush 
they cannot penetrate and cannot waken, to be again 
active but remain — books 

that is, men in hell, 
their reign over the living ended 



115 



Clearly, they say. Oh clearly! Clearly? 
What more clear than that of all things 
nothing is so unclear, between man and 
his writing, as to which is the man and 
which the thing and of them both which 
is the more to be valued 

When discovered it was a small blaze, though it was hot but it 
looked as tho' the firemen could handle it. But at dawn a wind came 
up and the flames (which they thought were subsiding) got suddenly 
out of control — sweeping the block and heading toward the business 
district. Before noon the whole city was doomed — 

Beautiful thing 

— the whole city doomed! And 

the flames towering 

like a mouse, like 
a red slipper, like 
a star, a geranium, 
a cat's tongue or — 

thought, thought 
that is a leaf, a 
pebble, an old man 
out of a story by 

Pushkin . 

Ah! 

rotten beams tum- 
bling, 

• an old bottle 

mauled 



116 



The night was made day by the flames, flames 
on which he fed — grubbing the page 

(the burning page) 
like a worm — for enlightenment 

Of which we drink and are drunk and in the end 
are destroyed (as we feed). But the flames 
are flames with a requirement, a belly of their 
own that destroys — as there are fires that 
smolder 

smolder a lifetime and never burst 
into flame 

Papers 

(consumed) scattered to the winds. Black. 
The ink burned white, metal white. So be it. 
Come overall beauty. Come soon. So be it. 
A dust between the fingers. So be it. 
Come tatterdemalion futility. Win through. 
So be it. So be it. 

An iron dog, eyes 
aflame in a flame-filled corridor. A drunkenness 
of flames. So be it. A bottle, mauled 
by the flames, belly-bent with laughter: 
yellow, green. So be it — of drunkenness 
survived, in guffaws of flame. All fire afire! 
So be it. Swallowing the fire. So be 
it. Torqued to laughter by the fire, 
the very fire. So be it. Chortling at flames 
sucked in, a multiformity of laughter, a 
flaming gravity surpassing the sobriety of 
flames, a chastity of annihilation. Recreant, 
calling it good. Calling the fire good. 
So be it. The beauty of fire-blasted sand 
that was glass, that was a bottle: unbottled. 
Unabashed. So be it. 



An old bottle, mauled by the fire 
gets a new glaze, the glass warped 
to a new distinction, reclaiming the 
undefined. A hot stone, reached 
by the tide, crackled over by fine 
lines, the glaze unspoiled 
Annihilation ameliorated: Hottest 
lips lifted till no shape but a vast 
molt of the news flows. Drink 
of the news, fluid to the breath. 
Shouts its laughter* crying out — by 
an investment of grace in the sand 
— or stone: oasis water. The glass 
splotched with concentric rainbows 
of cold fire that the fire has bequeathed 
there as it cools, its flame 
defied — the flame that wrapped the glass 
deflowered, reflowered there by 
the flame: a second flame, surpassing 
heat 

Hell's fire. Fire. Sit your horny ass 

down. What's your game? Beat you 

at your own game, Fire. Outlast you: 

Poet Beats Fire at Its Own Game! The bottle! 

the bottle! the bottle! the bottle! I 

give you the bottle! What's burning 

now, Fire? 

The Library? 

Whirling flames, leaping 
from house to house, building to building 



carried by the wind 



the library is in their path 

Beautiful thing! aflame 

a defiance of authority 
— burnt Sappho's poems, burned 
by intention (or are they still hid 
in the Vatican crypts?) : 

beauty is 

a defiance of authority : 

for they were 
unwrapped, fragment by fragment, from 
outer mummy cases of papier macte inside 
Egyptian sarcophagi 

flying papers 
from old conflagrations, picked up 
haphazard by thfe undertakers to make 
moulds, layer after layer 

for the dead 

Beautiful thing 

The anthology suppressed, revived even by 
the dead, you who understand nothing 
of this: 

Durer's Melancholy, the gears 
lying disrelated to the mathematics of the 
machine 

Useless, 

Beautiful thing, your 
vulgarity of beauty surpasses all their 
perfections! 

119 



Vulgarity surpasses all perfections 
— it leaps from a varnish pot and we see 
it pass — in flames! 

Beautiful thing 

—intertwined with the fire. An identity 
surmounting the world, its core — from which 
we shrink squirting little hoses of 

objection — and 
I along with the rest, squirting 
at the fire 

Poet. 

Are you there? 

How shall I find examples? Some boy 

who drove a bull-dozer through 

the barrage at Iwo Jima and turned it 

and drove back making a path for the others — 

Voiceless, his 

action gracing a flame 

—but lost, lost 
because there is no way to link 
the syllables anew to imprison him 

No twist of the flame 
in his own image : he goes nameless 
until a Nik6 shall live in his honor — 

And for that, invention is lacking, 
the words are lacking: 

the waterfall of the 
flames, a cataract reversed, shooting 
upward (what difference does it make? ) 



The language, 



Beautiful thing— that I 
make a fool of myself, mourning the lack 
of dedication 

mourning its losses, 

for you 

Scarred, fire swept 
(by a nameless fire, that is unknown even 
to yourself) nameless, 

drunk. 

Rising, with a whirling motion, the person 
passed into the flame, becomes the flame — 
the flame taking over the person 

—with a roar, an outcry 
which none can afford (we die in silence, we 
enjoy shamefacedly— in silence, hiding 
our joy even from each other 

keeping 

a secret joy in the flame which we dare 
not acknowledge) 

a shriek of fire with 

• i . .. - 

the upwind, whirling the room away — to reveal 
the awesome sight of a tin roof (1880) 
entire, half a block long, lifted like a 
skirt, held by the fire — to rise at last, 
almost with a sigh, rise and float, float 
upon the flames as upon a sweet breeze, 
and majestically drift off, riding the air, 

sliding 



upon the air, easily and away over 
the frizzled elms that seem to bend under 
it, clearing the railroad tracks to fall 
upon the roofs beyond, red hot 
darkening the rooms 

(but not our minds) 

While we stand with our mouths open, 
shaking our heads and saying, My God, did 
ybu ever see anything like that? As though 
it were wholly out of our dreams, as 
indeed it is, unparalleled in our most sanguine 
dreams 

The person submerged 
in wonder, the fire become the person 

But the pathetic library (that contained, 
perhaps, not one volume of distinction) 
must go down also-* 

Because it is silent. It 
is silent by defect of virtue in that it 
contains nothing of you 

That which should be 
rare is trash; because it contains 
nothing of you. They spit on you, 
literally, but without you, nothing. The 
library is muffled and dead 

But you are the dream 

of dead men 



Beautiful Thing! 



Let them explain you and you will be ' 
the heart of the explanation. Nameless, 
you will appear 

Beautiful Thing 

the flame's lover — 

The pitiful dead 
cry back to us from the fire, cold in 
the fire, crying out-wanting to be chaffed 
and cherished 

those who have written books 

We read: not the flames 
but the ruin left 
by the conflagration 

Not the enormous burning 
but th^ dead (the books 
remaining). Let us read ♦ 

and digest: the surface 
glistens, only the surface. 
Dig in — and you have 

a nothing, surrounded by 
a surf ace, an inverted 
bell resounding, a 

white-hot man become 
a book, the emptiness of 
a cavern resounding 

Hi Kid 

I know you just about to shot me. But honest Hon. I have 
really been to busy to write. Here there, and everywhere. 

Bab I haven't wrote since October so I will go back to Oct. 31, 
{Oh by the way are friend Madam B. Harris had a party the 31, but 
only high brqwns and yellow so I wasn't invited) 

123 



But I pay that no mind, cause I really (pitched myself a ball) 
Went to the show early in the day, and then to the dance at the 
club, had me a (some landed fine time) 1 was feeling good believe 
me you, child. 

But, child, Nov x, I did crack you know yourself I been going 
full force on the (jug) will we went out (going to Newark) was 
raining, car slapped on brakes, car turned around a few times, rocked 
a bit and stopped facing the other way, from which we was going. 
Pal, believe me for the next few days. Honey, I couldn't even pick 
up a half filled bucket of hot water for fear of scalding myself. 

Now I don't know which did it the jug or the car skidding but 
all I know is 1 was nowhere on nerves. But as they say alls well that 
ends well So Nov 15, 1 mean Kid I was so teaed that I didn't know 
a from z I really mean I was teaed Since Nov 15 I Have been at 
it again ever since. 

But now for the (Boys) How Raymond James People going 
with Sis but is in jail for giving Joseble Miller a baby. 

Robert Blocker has taken his ring from Sally Mitchell 

Little Sonny Jones is supposed to be the father of a girl's baby 
on Liberty St. 

Sally Mund Barbara H Jean C and Mary M are all supposed to 
be going to have kids Nelson W. a boy on 3rd St is father to 3 kids 
on their way. 

• • • * • * • • * * • 
P. S. Kid do you think in your next letter of your you could tell 
me how to get over there. 

Tell Raymond I said 1 bubetut hatche isus cashutute 
Just a new way of talking kid. It is called (Tut) maybe you heard 
of it. Well here hoping you can read it 

D 

So long. 
Later 

Beautiful thing 

I saw you: 
Yes, said 

the Lady of the House to my questioning. 
Downstairs 

(by the laundry tubs) 

and she pointed, 

124 



smiling, to die basement, still smiling, and 
went out and left me with you (alone in die house) 
lying there, ill 

(I don't at all think that you 

were ill) 

by the wall on your damp bed, your long 
body stretched out negligendy on the dirty sheet 

Where is the pain? 

( You put on a simper designed 

not to rev< 



— the small window with two panes, 
my eye level of the ground, the furnace odor 

Persephone 
gone to hell, that hell could not keep with 
the advancing season of pity. 

— for I was overcome 
by amazement and could do nothing but admire 
and lean to care for you in your quietness — 

who looked at me, smiling, and we remained 
thus looking, each at the other • in silence 

You lethargic, waiting upon me, waiting for 
the fire and I 

attendant upon you, shaken by your beauty 

Shaken by your beauty 

Shaken. 



— flat on your back, in a low bed (waiting) 

under the mud plashed windows among the scabrous 

dirt of the holy sheets 



You showed me your legs, scarred (as a child) 
by the whip 

Read. Bring the mind back (attendant upon 
the page) to the day's heat. The page also is 
the same beauty : a dry beauty of the page — 
beaten by whips 

A tapestry hound 
with his thread teeth drawing crimson from 
the throat of the unicorn 

a yelping of white hounds 
— under a ceiling like that of San Lorenzo, the long 
painted beams, straight across, that preceded 
the domes and arches 

more primitive, square edged 

a docile queen, not bothered 
to stick her tongue out at the moon, indifferent, 
through loss, but 

queenly, 

in bad luck, the luck of the stars, the black stars 

the night of a mine 

Dear heart 

It's all for you, my dove, my 

changeling 

But you! 

— in your white lace dress 

"the dying swan" 
and high-heeled slippers— tall 
as you already were— 

till your head 



through fruitful exaggeration 
was reaching the sky and the 
prickles of its ecstasy 

Beautiful Thing! 
And the guys from Paterson 

beat up 

the guys from Newark and told 
them to stay the hell out 
of their territory and then 
socked you one 

across the nose 

Beautiful Thing 
for good luck and emphasis 

cracking it 
. till I must believe that all 
desired women have had each 

in the end 

a busted nose 
and live afterward marked up 

Beautiful Thing 

for memory's sake 
to be credible in their deeds 

Then back to the party! 

and they maled 
and femaled you jealously 

Beautiful Thing 
as if to discover whence and 

by what miracle 
there should escape, what? 
still to be possessed, out of 

what part 

Beautiful Thing 
should it look? 

or be extinguished-^ 
Three days in the same dress 

up and down 



I can't be half gentle enough, 
half tender enough 

toward you, toward you, 
inarticulate, not half loving enough 

BRIGHTen 

the cor 



you are! 



—a i 

black plush, a dark flame. 



128 



/// 



It is dangerous to leave written that which is badly written. 
A chance word, upon paper, may destroy the world. Watch 
carefully and erase, while the power is still yours, I say to 
myself, for all that is put down, once it escapes, may rot its 
way into a thousand minds, the corn become a black smut, and 
all libraries, of necessity, be burned to the ground as a con- 
sequence. 

Only one answer: write carelessly so that nothing that is 
not green will survive. 

There is a drumming of submerged 
engines, a beat of propellers. 
The ears are water. The feet 
listen. Boney fish bearing lights 
stalk the eyes — which float about, 
indifferent. A taste of iodine 
stagnates upon the law of percent- 
ages: thick boards bored through 
by worms whose calcined husks 
cut our fingers, which bleed 

We walk into a dream, from certainty to the unascertained, 
in time to see . from the roseate past • a 
ribbed tail deploying 

Tra la la la la la la la la 
La tra tra tra tra tra tra 

Upon which there intervenes 
a sour stench of embers. So be it. Rain 
falls and surfeits the river's upper reaches, 
gathering slowly. So be it. Draws together, 
runnel by runnel. So be it. A broken oar 
is found by the searching waters. Loosened 

129 



J 



it begins to move. So be it. Old timbers 

sigh — and yield. The well that gave sweet water 

is sullied. So be it. And lilies that floated 

quiet in the shallows, anchored, tug as 

fish at a line. So be it. And are by their 

stems pulled under, drowned in the muddy flux. 

The white crane flies into the wood. 

So be it. Men stand at the bridge, silent, 

watching. So be it. So be it. 

And there rises 

a counterpart, of reading, slowly, overwhelming 
the mind; anchors him in his chair. So be 
it. He turns . O Paradiso! The stream 
grows leaden within him, his lilies drag. So 
be it. Texts mount and complicate them- 
selves, lead to further texts and those 
to synopses, digests and emendations. So be it. 
Until the words break loose or — sadly 
hold, unshaken. Unshaken! So be it. For 
the made-arch holds, the water piles up debris 
against it but it is unshaken. They gather 
upon the bridge and look down, unshaken. 
So be it. So be it. So be it. 

The sullen, leaden flood, the silken flood 
— to the teeth 

to the very eyes 

(light grey) 

Henry's the name. Just Henry, * 

ever'body 

knows me around here: hat 

pulled down hard on his skull, thick chested, 

fiftyish . 

Fll hold the baby. 



130 



That was your little dog bit me last year. 
Yeah, and you had him killed on me. 



(the eyes) 



I didn't know he'd been killed. 

You reported him and 
they come and took him. He never hurt 
anybody. 

He bit me three times. 



to report him • 
A dog, head dropped back, under water, legs 



They come and 



took him and killed him. 



I'm sorry but I had 



sticking up : . 

a skin 

tense with the wine of death 



downstream 



on the swift current 



Above the silence 



a faint hissing, a seething hardly at first 
to be noticed 




Speed! 



— marked 

as by the lines on slate, mottled by petty 
whirlpools 



(to the teeth, to the very eyes) 



a formal progression 



The remains— a man of gigantic stature— were transported on 
the shoulders of the most renowned warriors of the surrounding 
country . for many hours they travelled without rest. But half 
way on the journey the carriers had to quit overcome by fatigue — 
they had walked many hours and Pogatticut was heavy* So by the 
side of the trail, at a place called "Whooping Boys Hollow," they 
scooped out a shallow hole and laid the dead chieftain down in it 
while they rested. By so doing, the spot became sacred, held in 
veneration by the Indians. 

Arrived at the burial place the funeral procession was met by 
Pogatticut's brothers and their followers. There was great lamenta- 
tion and the Kinte Kaye was performed in sadness. 

Wyandach, the most illustrious brother, performed the burial 
sacrifice. Having his favorite dog, a much loved animal, brought 
forth, he killed him, and laid him, after painting his muzzle red, 
beside his brother. For three days and three nights the tribes 
mourned • 

Pursued by the whirlpool-mouths, the dog 
descends toward Acheron * Le Neant 
the sewer 

a dead dog 

turning 

upon the water: 

Come yeah, Chi Chi! 

turning 

as he passes 

It is a sort of chant, a sort of praise, a 
peace that comes of destruction: 

to the teeth, 

to the very eyes 

(cut lead) 



132 



I bin nipped 

hundreds of times. He never done anybody any 
harm . 

helpless 

You had him killed on me. 

About Merselis Van Giesen a curious story illustrative of the 
superstition of the day is to this effect: His wife was ill for a long 
time, confined to her bed. As she lay there, a black cat would come, 
night after night, and stare at her through the window, with wicked, 
blazing eyes. An uncanny fact about this visitation was that no one 
else could see the cat. That Jane was bewitched was the belief of the 
whole neighborhood. Moreover, the witch who exercised this spell, 
and who made these weird visits to the sufferer, in the guise of a cat 

invisible to everybody but the bewitched, was believed to be Mrs. B. 
who lived in the gorge in the hill beyond. 

Happy souls! whose devils lived so near. 

Talking the matter 4 over with his neighbors, Merselis (he was 
called "Sale") was told that if he could shoot the spectral cat with 
a silver bullet he would kill the creature, and put a stop to the spells 
exercised over his wife. He did not have a silver bullet, but he had 
a pair of silver sleeve buttons. 

Who of us thinks so fast to switch the category 
of our loves and hatreds? 

Loading his gun with one of these buttons, he seated himself 
on the bed beside his wife, and declared his intention of shooting 
the witch cat. But how could he shoot a creature he could not see? 

Are we any better off? 

"When the cat comes," said he to his wife, "do you point out 
just where it is, and I will shoot at that spot." So they waited, she 
in a tremor of hope and dread — hope that the spells afflicting her 
would soon be ended; dread that some new torment might come to 
her from this daring attempt of her husband; he, in grim determina- 
tion to forever end the unholy power exercised over his wife by 
Mrs. B., in the guise of the invisible feline. Long and silently they 
waited. 



—what a picture of marital fidelity! dreaming as one. 

At last, when their feelings had been wrought up, by the suspense 
to the highest pitch, Jane exclaimed "There is the black cat!" 
"Where?" "At the window, it's walking on the sill, it is in the 
lower left-hand corner!" Quick as a flash "Sale" raised his gun and 
fired the silver bullet at the black cat which he could not see. With 
a snarl that was a scream the mysterious creature vanished forever 
from the gaze of Mrs. Van Giesen, who from that hour began to 
recover her health. 

The next day "Sale" started out on a hunt through what is now 
known as Cedar Cliff Park. On the way he met the husband of the 
suspected witch. There was the usual exchange of courteous 
neighborly inquiries regarding the health of their respective fam- 
ilies. Mr. B. said his wife was troubled with a sore on her leg for 
some time. "I would like to see that sore leg," said "Sale." After 
some demur he was taken to the house, and on one plea or another 
was finally permitted to examine the sore. But what particularly 
attracted his notice was a fresh wdurid, just where his silver sleeve 
button had struck the unfortunate creature when she had last 
visited his wife in the form of the spectral black witch cat! Needless 
to say Mrs. B. never mpre made those weird visitations. Perhaps it 
was from a sense of thanksgiving for her miraculous deliverance 
that Mrs. Van Giesen joined the First Presbyterian Church on 
Confession, Sept. 26, 1823. Merselis Van Giesen was assessed in 1807 
for 62 acres of unimproved land, two horses and five cattle. 

— 62 acres of unimproved land, two horses 
and five cattle • — 

(that cures the fantasy) 

The Book of Lead t 
he cannot lift the pages 

(Why do I bother with this 

rubbish?) 



Heavy plaits 

tumbling massive, yellow into the cleft, 
bellowing 

— giving way to the spread 
of the flood as it lifts to recognition in a 
rachitic brain 

(the water two feet now on the turnpike 
and still rising) 

There is no ease. 
We close our eyes, 
get what we use 
and pay. He owes 
who cannot, double. 
Use. Ask no whys? 
1 None wants our ayes. 

But somehow a man must lift himself 
again — 

again is the magic word . 
turning the in out : 
Speed against the inundation 

He feels he ought to do more. He had 
a young girl there. Her mother told her, 
Go jump off the falls, who cares? — 
She was only fifteen. He feels so frustrated. 
I tell him, What do you expect, you 
have only two hands • ? 

It was a place to see* she said, The White Shutters. He said Yd 
be perfecdy safe there with him. But I never went. I wanted to, 1 
wasn't afraid but it just never happened. He had a small orchestra 



135 



that played there, The Clipper Crew he called it— -like in all the 
speakeasies of those days. But one night they came leaping down- 
stairs from the banquet hall tearing their clothes" off, the women 
throwing their skirts over their heads, and joined in the dancing, 
naked, with the others on the main floor. He took one look and 
then went out the back window just ahead of the police* in his 
dress shoes into the mud along the river bank. 

Let me see, Puerto Plata is 
the port of Santo Domingo. 

There was a time when 
they didn't want any whites 
to own anything — to 
hold anything — to say, This 
is mine » 

I see things, • • 

— the water at this stage no lullaby but a piston, 
cohabitous, scouring the stones 

the rock 

floating on the water (as at Mt Katmai 
the pumice-covered sea was white as milk) 

One can imagine 
the fish hiding or 
at full speed 
stationary 

in the leaping stream 
—it's undermining the railroad embankment 



136 



Hi, open up a dozen, make 
it two dozen! Easy girl! 

You wanna blow a fuse? 

All manner of particularizations 
to stay the pocky moon : 

January sunshine 



Wednesday, u 

(10,000,000 times plus April) 

~~* red " bu «ed reversible minute-glass 

loaded with 
salt-like white crystals 

flowing 

for timing eggs 
Salut a Antanm Artaud pour les 
Ugnes 9 tris pures 

"et Revocations plas- 
tiques d y elements de" 

and 

"Funeral designs" 

(a beautiful, optimistic 
word ) and 

"Plants" 

"Wedding bouquets" 

— the association 

is indefensible. 



137 



S. Liz ^ 13 Oct 

(re, C.O.E. Panda Panda ) 

Fer gor Zake/ don't so egggzaggerate/ 
I never told you to read it. 
let erlone REread it. I didn't 
say it *wuz ! ! henjoyable readin. 
I sd/ the guy had done some honest 
work devilupping his theatre technique 



That don't necess/y mean m: 
reading matter @ all. 
Enny how there must be 
one hundred books {not 
that one) that you need to 
read fer yr/ mind's sake. 



re read all the Gk tragedies in 

Loeb. — plus Frobenius, plus 

Gesell plus Brooks Adams 

ef you ain't read him all. — 

Then Golding 'Ovid' is in Everyman lib. 



& nif you want a readin 
list ask papa— but don't 
go rushin to read a book 
just cause it is mentioned eng 
passang. is fraugs. ... 



138 



SUBSTRATUM 
Artesian well at the Passaic Rolling Mill, Paterson. 

The following is the tabular account of the specimens found 
m this well, with the depths at which they were taken, in feet. The 
boring began in September, 1879, and was continued until Novem- 
|>er, 1880. 

DEPTH DESCRIPTION OF MATERIALS 

65 feet. • . Red sandstone, fine 

1 10 feet. . . Red sandstone, coarse 

182 feet. . , Red sandstone, and a little shale 

400 feet. . . Red sandstone, shaly 

404 feet. . . Shale 

430 feet. . . Red sandstone, fine grained 

540 feet. . . Sandy shale, soft 

565 feet. . . Soft shale 

585 feet. . . Soft shale 

600' feet. . • Hard sandstone 

605 feet. . . Soft shale 

609 feet. . . Soft shale 

1,170 feet. . . Belehite, i % 1 Me in. 

1,180 feet. . . Fine quicksand, reddish 

1,180 feet. ♦ . Pyrites 

1,370 feet. . . Sandy rock, under quicksand 

1 400 feet. . . Dark red sandstone 

1,400 feet. . • Light red sandstone 

1 41 5 feet. . . Dark red sandstone 

1,415 feet. . . Light red sandstone 

1 41 5 feet. . . Fragments of red sandstone 

1,540 feet> . . Red sandstone, and a pebble of kaolin 

1,700 feet. . . Light red sandstone 

1,830 feet. . * Light red sandstone 

1,830 feet, . . Light red sandstone 

1,830 feet. • * Light red stone 

2,000 feet. • . Red shale 

2,020 feet. • . Light red sandstone 

2,050 feet. . • 

2,100 feet. . • Shaly sandstone 

At this depth the attempt to bore through the red sandstone was 
abandoned, the water being altogether unfit for ordinary use. 
, . . The fact that the rock salt of England, and of some of the 
other salt mines of Europe, is found in rocks of the same age as 
this, raises the question whether it may not also be found here. 



139 



— to the teeth, to the very eyes 
• uh, uh 

FULL STOP 

— and leave the world 
to darkness 
and to 
me 

When the water has receded most things have lost their 
form. They lean in the direction the current went. Mud 
covers them 

— fertile(?)mud. 

If it were only fertile. Rather a sort of muck, a detritus, 

in this case — a pustular scum, a decay, a choking 

lifelessness — that leaves the soil clogged after it, 

that glues the sandy bottom and blackens stones — so that 

they have to be scoured three times when, because of 

an attractive brokenness, we take them up for garden uses. 

An acrid, a revolting stench comes out of them, almost one 

might say a granular stench — fouls the mind 

How to begin to find a shape— to begin to begin again, 
turning the inside out : to find one phrase that will 
lie married beside another for delight . ? 
— seems beyond attainment 

American poetry is a very easy subject to discuss for the 
simple reason that it does not exist 

Degraded. The leaf torn from 

the calendar. All forgot. Give 

it over to the woman, let her 

begin again — with insects 

and decay, decay and then insects : 

the leaves — that were varnished 



140 



with sediment, fallen, the clutter 
made piecemeal by decay, a 
digestion takes place . 

—of this, make it of * his, this 
this, this, this, this 

Where the dredge dumped the fill, 
something, a white hop-clover 
with cordy roots (of iron) gripped 
the sand in its claws — and blossomed 
massively, where the old farm 
was and the man broke his wife's 
cancerous jaw because she was , 
too weak, too sick, that is, to 
\vork in the field for him as he 
thought she should 

So thinking, he composed 
a song to her: 

to entertain her 
in her reading: 

# # • 

The birds in winter 
and in summer the flowers 
those are her two joys 
«~-to cover her secret sorrow 

Love is her sorrow 

over which at heart 

she cries for joy by the hour 

—a secret she will not reveal 



Her ohs are ahs 
her ahs are ohs 
and her sad joys 
fly with the birds and blossom 
with the rose 



— the edema subsides 




Some ' 
is no recurrence. 
The past is dead. Women are 
legalists, they want to rescue 
a framework of laws, a skeleton of 
practices, a calcined reticulum 
of the past which, bees, they will 
fill with honey # 

It is not to be done. The seepage has 
rotted out the curtain. The mesh 
is decayed. Loosen the flesh 
from the machine, build no more 

Through what air will you 

continents? Let the words 




hit love aslant. It will be a rare 
visitatipn. They want to rescue too 
the flood has done its work 



Go down, peer among the fishes. What 
do you expect to save, muscle shells? 

Here's a fossil conch (a paper weight 
of sufficient quaintness) mud 
and shells baked by a near eternity 
into a melange, hard as stone, full of 
tiny shells 

— baked by endless desiccations into 



142 



a shelly rime— turned up 
in an old pasture whose history — 
even whose partial history, is 
death itself 

Vercingetorix, the only 



Let's give the Canary to that 
old deaf woman; when he opens his 
bill, to hiss at her, she'll think he 
is singing 

Does the pulp need further maceration? 
take down the walls, invite 
the trespass. After all, the slums 
unless they are (living) 
wiped out they ^cannot be re- 
constituted " 

The. words will have to be rebricked up, the 
— what? What am I coming to . 

pouring down? 

When an African Ibibio man is slain in battle, rharrieJ women 
j|ftrho are his next of kin rescue the corpse. No man may touch it. 
Weeping and singing songs, the scouts bear the dead warrior to 
p forest glade called Owokafai — the place of those slain by sudden 
death. They lay him on a bed made of fresh leaves. Then they cut 
•young branches from a sacred tree and wave the bough over the 
genital organs of the warrior to extract the spirit of fertility into 
the leaves. Knowledge of the rites must be kept from men and 
from unmarried girls. Only married women, who have felt the 
fertility of men in their bodies, can know the secret of life. To 
them it was entrusted by their great goddess "in the days when 
woman, not man, was the dominant sex. . ; on the guarding of 
this secret depended the strength of the tribe. Were the rites once 
disclosed — few or no babies would be born, barns and herds would 
yield but scanty increase, while the arms of future generations of 



fighting men would lose their strength and hearts their courage/* 
This ceremony is conducted to the accompaniment of low, wailing 
chants, which only these wives of warriors have authority to sing, 
or even to know. 

—in a hundred years, perhaps— 
the syllables 

(with genius) 

or perhaps 

two lifetimes 

Sometimes it takes longer • 

Did I do more than share your guilt, sweet woman. The 
cherimoya is the most delicately flavored of all 
tropic fruit. . . Either I abandon you 
or give up writing • 

I was thinking about her all day long yesterday. You know she's 
been dead four years? And that son of a bitch only has one more 
year to serve. Then he'll be out and we can't do a thing about it. — 
I suppose he killed her. — You know he killed her, just shot her to 
death. And do you remember that Clifford that used to follow her 
around, poor man? He'd do anything she asked him to — the most 
harmless creature in the world; he's been sick. He had rheumatic 
fever when he was a child and can't leave the house any more. He 
wrote to us to send him some dirty jokes because he can't get out 
to hear them himself. And we can't either of us think of one new 
one to send him. 

The past above, the future below 

and the present pouring down: the roar, "j 

the roar of the present, a speech — 

is, of necessity, my sole concern • 

They plunged, they fell in a swoon . 
or by intention, to make an end— the 
roar, unrelenting, witnessing . 
Neither the past nor the future 



144 



Neither to stare, amnesic — forgetting. 
The language cascades into the 
invisible, beyond and above : the falls 
of which it is the visible part — 

Not until I have made of it a replica 

will my sins be forgiven and my 

disease cured— in wax: la capella di S. Rocco 

on the sandstone crest above the old 

copper mines — where I used to see 

the images of arms and knees 

hung on nails (de Montpellier) . 

No meaning. And yet, unless I find a place 

apart from it, I am its slave, 
its sleeper, bewildered — dazzled 
by distance . I cannot stay here 
to spend" my life looking into the past: 

the future's no answer. I must 
find my meaning and lay it, white, 
beside the sliding water: myself — 
comb out the language — or succumb 

—whatever the complexion. Let 
me out! (Well, go! ) this rhetoric 
is real! 



Boole Four 



The Run f o f he Sea 



I 

An Idyl 

Cory don & Phyllis 

Two silly women! 

(Look, Dad, Fm dancing!) 

What's that? 

I didn't say anything • 
except yop don't look silly 

Semantics, my dear • 

— and I know Vm not 

Ouch! you have hands like a man . Some day, 
sweetheart, when we know each other better 
I'll tell you a few things . . 
Thank you. Very satisfactory. My secretary 

will be at the door with your money 
No. I prefer it that way 

O.K. 

Good-bye 

Miss .eh 



Phyllis 



Tiens! Ill phone the agency 

Until tomorrow, then, Phyllis, at the same hour. 

Shall I be walking again soon, do you think? 

Why not? 

• •# * • * * 



A Lettet 

Look, Big Shot, I refuse to come home until you promise to cut 
out the booze. It's no use your talking about Mother needs 
me and all that bologney. If you thought anything of her you 
wouldn't carry on the way you do. Maybe your family did 
once own the whole valley. Who owns it now? What you 
need is to be slapped down. 

Vm having a fine time in the Big City as a Professional Woman, 
ahem! Believe me there's plenty of money here — if you can 
get it. With your brains and ability this should be your meat. 
But you'd rather hit the bottle. 

That's all right with me — only I won't wrestle with you all 
night on the bed any more because you got the D.Ts. I can't 

take it, your too strong for me. So make up your mind — one 
way or the other. 

• • * • • * 

Corydon & Phyllis 

And how are you today, darling? 

(She calls me darling now!) 

What sort of life can you lead 

in that horrid place *. Rach-a-mo, did 

you say? 



ISO 



Ramapo 

To be sure, 

how stupid of me. 



What was that? 
Really you'll have to speak louder 

I said 

Never mind. 

You mentioned a city? 

Paterson, where I trained 

* ;■> * Paterson! 
Yes, of course. Where Nicholas Murray Butler was 
born . and his sister, the lame one. They 
used to have silk mills there . 
until the unions ruined them. Too bad. Wonderful 
hands! I completely forget myself 
Some hands are silver, some gold and some, 
a very few, like yours, diamonds (If only I 
could keep you! ) You like it here? . Go 
look out of that window 

That is the East River, The sun rises there. 
And beyond, is BlackwelTs Island. Welfare Island, 
City Island . whatever they call it now 
where the city's petty criminals, the poor 
the superannuated and the insane are housed 

Look at me when I talk to you 



151 



— and then 
the three rocks, tapering off into the water 
all that's left of the elemental, the primitive 
in this environment I call them my sheep 



Docile, are 




What's the idea? 

Lonesomeness perhaps. It's a long story. Be 
their shepherdess Phyllis. And 1 
shall be Corydon . inoffensively, I hope? 
Phyllis and Corydon. How lovely! Do you 
care for almonds? 

Nope. I hate all kinds of 
nuts. They get in your hair . your 
teeth, I mean 



A Letter 

Lay off that stuff. I can take care of myself. And if not, so 
what? 

This is a racket, all I got to do is give her "massage** — and 
what do I know about massage? I just rub her, and how I rub 
her! And does she like it! And does she pay! Oh boy! So I 
rub her and read to her. The place is full of books—in all 
languages! 

But she's a nut, of the worst kind. Today she was telling me 
about some rocks in the river here she calls her three sheep. If 
they're sheep Fm the Queen of England. They're white all 
right but it's from the gulls that crap them up all day long. 



152 



You ought to see this place. 



There was a hellicopter (?) flying all over the river today 
looking for the body of a suicide, some student, some girl 
about my age (she says . a Hindu Princess). It was in the 
papers this morning but I didn't take notice. You ought to 
have seen the way those gulls were winging it around* They 
went crazy . 




You must have lots of boy friends, Phyllis 



one 



Incredible! 



Only one I'm interested in 



right now 



What is he like? 



Who? 



Your lover 



Oh him. He's married. I 



haven't got a chance with him 



You hussy! And what do you do together? 



Just talk. 



Phyllis <£f Paterson 



Are you happy? 
Happy IVe come? 

Happy? No, I'm not happy 

Never? 
Well . 

The 



• • . « * • 

The Poet 

Oh Paterson! Oh married man! 
He is the city of cheap hotels and private 
entrances , of taxis at the door, the car 
standing in the rain hour after hour by 
the roadhouse entrance 

Good-bye, dear, I had a wonderful time. 
Wait! there's something . but I've forgotten 
what it was . something I wanted 
to tell you. Completely gone! Completely, 
Well, good-bye 

• * • • • 

Phyllis & Paterson 

How long can you stay? 

Six-thirty . IVe got 
to meet the boy friend 



154 



Take off your clothes 

No. I'm good at saying that. 

She stood 
quietly to be undressed . 

the buttons were difficult 
This is one of my father's 
best. You ought to have heard 
him this morning when I 
cut the tails off 

He drew back the white 
shirt . slid aside the 
ribbons 

. Glory be to God ♦ 
— then stripped her 

and all His Saints! 



No, just broad shouldered 



— on the couch, kissing and talking while his 
hands explored her body, slowly 
courteously . persistent 



Be careful 

I've got an awful cold 

It's the first 

this year. We went 

fishing in all 

that rain last week 

Who? Your father? 
— and my boy friend 

Fly fishing? 

No. Bass. But it isn't 

the season. I know that 
but nobody saw us 

I got soaked to the skin 
Can you fish? 

Oh I have a pole and a 
line and just fish along 

We caught quite a few 



Good morning, Phyllis. You are beautiful this morning 
(in a common sort of way) I wonder if you know how 
lovely you really are, Phyllis, my little Milk Maid (That's 
good! The lucky man! ) I dreamt of you last night. 




156 



A Letter 



I don't care what you say. Unless Mother writes me, herself, 
that youVe stopped drinking — and I mean stopped drinking 
— I won't 



Cory don & Phyllis 

What sort of people do you come from, Phyllis? 

My father's a drunk. 

That's more humility than the situation demands. 
Never be ashamed of your origins. 

I'm not. It's just the truth. 

The truth! Virtue, my dear, if one had it! is only 
interesting in the aggregate, as you will discover , or per- 
haps you have already found it so. That's our Christian teach- 
ing: not denial but forgiveness, the Prodigal Daughter. Have 
you ever been to bed with a man? 

Have you? 

Good shot! With this body? I think I'm more 
horse than .woman. Did you ever see such skin as mine? 
Speckled like a Guinea hen 

Only their speckles are white. 

More like a toad, perhaps? 

I didn't say that. 



Why not? It's the truth, my little Oread. In- 
domitable. Let's change names. You be Corydon! And IS 
play Phyllis. Young! Innocent! One can fairly hear the pelt- 
ing of apples and the stomp and clatter of Pan's hoofbeats. 
Tantamount to nothing 



Phyllis & Paterson 



Look at us! Why do you 

torment yourself? 

You think Fm a virgin. 

Suppose I told you 

Fd had intercourse. What 

would you say then? 

you say? Suppose 



She leaned forward in 
the half light, close to 

his face. Tell 

me, what would you say? 

Have you had many lovers? 

No one who has mauled me 
the way you have. Look, 
we're all sweaty 



158 



My father's trying to get me a horse 



I went out, once, with a boy 
I only knew him a short time 

He asked me 

No, I said, of course not! 

He acted so surprised. 
Why, he said, most girls 

are crazy for it. I 
thought they all were « 

You ought to have seen 
my eyes. I never heard 
of such a thing 



I don't know why I can't give myself to you. A man 
like you should have everything he wants I guess I care 
too much, that's the trouble 

' • ■ i • • * m 

Corydan & Phyllis 

Phyllis, good morning. Could you stand a drink at 
this early hour? I've written you a poem . and the worst 
is, I'm about to read it to you . You don't have to like it. 
But, hell take it, you damn well better listen to it. Look at 
me shake! Or better, let me give you a short one, to begin 
with: 



If I am virtuous 

condemn me 

If my life is felicitous 

condemn me 

The world is 

iniquitous 



Mean anything? 

Not much. 

Well, here's another: 



Communist 
where are you 
going? 

To world's end 

Via? 
Chemistry 

Oh oh oh oh 

That will 

really 
be the end ♦ 

you 



won't it? 
7ogether 

together 



4 *With that she split her girdle." Gimme another shot. 
I always fell on my face when I wanted to step out. But here 
goes! Here it is. This is what I've been leading up to. It's 
called, Cory don, a Pastoral. We'll skip the first part, about the 
rocks and sheep, begin with the helicopter. You remember 
that? 

• • drives the gulls up in a cloud 

Urn . no more woods and fields. Therefore 

present, forever present 

. a whirring pterodactyl 
of a contrivance, to remind one of Da Vinci, 
searches the Hellgate current for some corpse, 
lest the gulls feed on it 
and its identity and its sex, as its hopes, and its 
despairs and its moles and its marks and 
its teeth audits nails be no longer decipherable 
and so lost . 

therefore present, 

forever present 
The gulls, vortices of despair, circle and give 
voice to their wild responses until the thing 
is gone . then, ravening, having scattered 
to survive, close again upon the focus, 
the bare stones, three harbor stones, except 
for that . useless 

unprofaned 

It stinks! 



If this were rhyme, Sweetheart 

such rhyme as might be made 
jaws would hang open 



But the measure of it is the thing . None 
can wish for an embellishment 

arid keep his mind lean, 

fit for action ♦ 

such action as I plan 

— to turn my hand up and hold 
it open, to the rain . 

of their deaths 
that I brood . and find none ready 

but mine own • 

rechercbS, a little strong? To hide my embarrassment? 
O.K.? 



Skip it, 

A ring is round 
but cannot bind 
though it may bound 
a lover's mind 

Phyllis, I think I'm 

quite well now • . . How would you like to go 
fishing with me somewhere? You like to fish 

Can I bring my father? 

No, you can't bring your father. You're a big girl now. 
A month with me, in the woods! I have a concession* Don't 
answer at once. You've never been to Anticosti . ? 



What's it like, pizza? 



Phyllis, you*re a bad girl. Let me go on with my poem 



• • • • . . • • 

Dear Pappy: 

. How yuh doin'? Are you behaving? because she wants me to 
go fishing with her. For a month! What do you say? You'd like 
that. 



Is that so? Well, you know where you can get off at. And don't 
think you can start coming in here. Because if you do 111 never 
go home. And you haverit stopped drinking! Don't try to kid me. 

Alright, if you think I'm in danger then learn to behave yourself. 
Are you a weakling or something? But I won't go through all 
that again. Never. Don't worry, as I told you, I can take care of 
myself. And if anything happens to me, so what? Blame it on I've 
got a father who is a drunk. 

Your daughter 
P. 



Phyllis & Paterson 

This dress is sweaty. I'll have 
to have it cleaned 
It lifted past the shoulders. 
Under it, her stockings 

Big thighs • 

Let us read, said the King 
lightly. Let us 



redivagate, said the Queen 
even more lightly 



and without batting an eye 



He took her nipples 
gently in his lips. No 
I don't like it 

• • • • • • 

Cory don & Phyllis 

You remember where we left off? At the entrance to the 
45th Street tunnel . Let's see 

houses placarded: 
Unfit for human habitation etc etc 

Oh yes 

Condemned . 
But who has been condemned . where the tunnel 
under the river starts? Voi ctfentrate 
revisited! Under ground, under rock, under river 
under gulls . under the insane 

the traffic is engulfed and disappears • 
to emerge ♦ never 

A voice calling in the hubbub (Why else 
are there newspapers, by the cart-load? ) blaring 
the news no wit shall evade, no rhyme 
cover. Necessity gripping the words . scouting 
evasion, that love is begrimed, befouled 

164 



Yd like to spill the truth, on that one* 
Why don't you? 



This is. a POEM! 

begrimed 

yet lifts its head, having suffered a sea-change! 
shorn of its eyes and its hair 
its teeth kicked out . a bitter submersion 
in darkness . a gelding, not to be 
listed . to be made ready! fit to 
serve (vermin trout, that eat the salmon eggs, 
gaze up through the dazzle . in glass 
necklaces . picturesque peasant stuff 
without value) . pulp 
■ *■ 

While in the tall 
buildings (sliding up and down) is where 
j the money's made 

up and down 

directed missiles 
in the greased shafts of the tall buildings 
They stand torpid in cages, in violent motion 
unmoved 

but alert! 

predatory minds, un- 
affected 

UNINCONVENIENCED 

unsexed, up 

and down (without wing motion) This is how 
the money's made . using such plugs. 



At the 

sanitary lunch hour packed woman to 

woman (or man to woman, what's the difference? ) 

the flesh of their faces gone 

to fat or gristle, without recognizable 

outline, fixed in rigors, adipose or sclerosis 

expressionless, facing one another, a mould 

for all faces (canned fish) this 

Move toward the back, please, and face the door! 

is how the money's made, 

money's made 

pressed togethe 
talking excitedly . of the next sandwich 
reading, from one hand, of some student, come 
waterlogged to the surface following 
last night's thunderstorm . the flesh a 
flesh of tears and fighting gulls 

Oh I could cry! 

cry upon your young shoulder for what I know. 
I feel so alone . 



Phyllis & Pater son 

I think I'll go on the stage, 

said she, with a deprecating laugh. 

Ho, ho! 

Why don't you? he replied 
though the legs, I'm afraid, would 
beat you 



166 



Cory don & Phyllis 

. with, me, Phyllis 
(I'm no Simaetha) in all your native loveliness 
that these spiked rumors may not tear 

that sweet flesh 

It sounds as tho' I wanted to eat you, I'll have to change that. 

Come with me to Anticosti, where the salmon 
lie spawning in the sun in the shallow water 

.1 think that's Yeats . 

— and we shall fish for the salmon fish 

No, I think that's the Yeats 

— and its silver 
shall be our crest and guerdon (what's a guerdon? ) 
drawn struggling . 

Believe me, some tussle! 

from the icy water 

I wish you'd come, dear, I've got my yacht all stocked 
and ready. Let me take you on a tour . of Paradise! 

That I'd like to see. 

Then why not come? 

I'm not ready to die yet, not even for that. 

You don't need to. 

167 



Dear Pappy: 



For the last time! 

All day today, believe it or not, we've been coasting along what 
they call up here the North Shore on our way to the place we're 
going to fish at. It sounds like an Italian dinner, Anticosti, but it's 
really french. 

It's wild, they say, but we have a marvellous guide, an Indian I 
think but it's not sure (maybe I'll marry him and stay up there for 
the rest of my life) Anyway he speaks french and the Missis talks 
to him in that language. I don't know what they're saying (and I 
don't care, I can talk my own language) . 

I can hardly keep my eyes open, I've been out almost every night 
this week. To go on. We have wine* mostly Champagne on board. 
She showed it to me, 24 cases for the party but I don't want any of 
it, thanks. I'll stick to my rum and coke. Don't worry. Tell Ma 
everything's all right. But remember, I'm through. 

* • • • • . 

Phyllis & Paterson 

Do you know that tall 
dark girl with the long nose? 
She's my friend. She says 
she's going West next fall. 

I'm saving every cent I 
can put together. I'm going 
with her. I haven't told 
my mother yet 



Why do you torment yourself? I can't 
think unless you're naked. I wouldn't blame 

168 



you if you beat me up, punched me, 
anything at all I wouldn't do 

you that much honor. What! what did you say? 
I said I wouldn't do you that much 

honor . So that's all? 

I'm afraid so. Something I shall always 

desire, you've seen to that. Talk to me. 
This is not the time for it. Why did you let 

me come? Who knows, why did you? I like 
coming here, I need you. L know that . 

hoping I'd take it from you, lacking 
your consent. I've lost out, haven't I? 

You have. Pull down my slip 

He lay upon his back upon the couch. 

She came, half dressed, and straddled him. 
My thighs are sore from riding 

Oh let me breathe! After I'm married 
you must take me out sometime. If that's 

what you want . 
Corydon & Fbyllis 

Have any of these men 
you speak of . ? 
— and has he? 



169 



No. 
Good, 

What's good about it? 
Then you're still a virgin!- 
What's it to you? 



II 



You were not more than 1 2, my son 

14 perhaps, the high school age 
when we went, together, 

a first for both of us, 
to a lecture, in the Solarium 

topping the hospital, on atomic 
fission. I hoped to discover 

an "interest" on your part. 

You listened 

Smash the world, wide! 
— if I could do it for you — 
Smash the wide world 
a fetid womb, a sump! 
NOiriver! no river 
but bog, a . swale 
sinks into the mind or 
the mind into it, a ? 

Norman Douglas (South Wind) said to me, The best thing a 
man can do for his son, when he is born, is to die 

I gave you another, bigger than yourself, to contend with. 

To resume: 

(What I miss, said your mother, is the poetry, the pure poem 
of the first parts ) 

The moon was in its first quarter. 

As we approached the hospital 
the air above it, having taken up 

the glow through the glass roof 
seemed ablaze, rivalling night's queen. 



The room was packed with doctors. 
How pale and young the boy seemed 

among those pigs, myself 
among them! who surpassed him 

only in experience, that drug, 
sitting erect to their talk: 

valences . 



For years a nurse-girl 

an unhatched sun corroding 
her mind, eating away a rind 



remorseless . 

Curie (the movie queen) upon 

. the stage at the Sorbonne . 
a half mile across! walking solitary 

as tho' in a forest, the silence 
of a great forest (of ideas) 

before the assembly (the 
little Polish baby-nurse) receives 



saved (splitting the atom of 
bitterness)! And Billy Sunday evangel 
and ex-rightfielder sets himself 
to take one off the wall ♦ 



of impermanences, through books 



international acclaim (a 



drug) 



Come on up! Come up Sister and be 



He's on 



the table now! Both feet, singing 
( a foot song ) his feet canonized 



by the United Factory Owners' Ass'n 




. to "break" the strike 

and put those S.CKBs in their places, be 

Geezus, by calling them to God! 

— getting his 27 Grand in the hotel room 
after the last supper (at the Hamilton) 
on the eve of quitting town, exhausted 
in his efforts to split (a split 
personality) . the plate 

What an arm! 

Come to Jesus! . Someone help 
that old woman up the steps . Gome to 
Jesus and be . All together now, 
give it everything you got! 

Brighten 

. 1 •* the corner where you 

are! 

Dear Doctor: 

In spite of the grey secrecy of time and my own self -shuttering 
doubts in these youthful rainy days, I would like to make my pres- 
ence in Paterson known t d you, and I hope you will welcome this 
from me, an unknown young poet, to you, an unknown old poet, 
who live in the same rusty county of the world. Not only do I 
inscribe this missive somewhat in the style of those courteous sages 
of yore who recognized one another across the generations as 
brotherly children of the muses (whose names they well know) 
but also as fellow citizenly Chinamen of the same province, whose 
gastanks, junkyards, fens of the alley, millways, funeral parlors, 
river-visions— aye! the falls itself— are images white-woven in their 
very beards. 

I went to see you once briefly two years ago (when I was 21), 
to interview you for a local newspaper. I wrote the story in fine 
and simple style, but it was hacked and changed and came out the 
next week as a labored joke at your expense which I assume you 
did not get to see. You invited me politely to return, but I did not, 



173 



as I had nothing to talk about except images of cloudy light, and 
was not able to speak to you in your own or my own concrete 
terms. Which failing still hangs with me to a lesser extent, yet I feel 
ready to approach you once more. 

As to my history: I went to Columbia on and off since 1043, 
working and travelling around the country and aboard ships when 
I was not in school, studying English. I won a few poetry prizes 
there and edited the Columbia Review. I liked Van Doren most 
there. I worked later on the Associated Press as a copyboy, and 
spent most of the last year in a mental hospital; and now I am 
back in Paterson which is home for the first time in seven years. 
What I'll do there I don't know yet— my first move was to try and 
get a job on one of the newspapers here and in Passaic, but that 
hasn't been successful yet. 

My literary liking is Melville in Pierre and the Confidence Man, 
and in my own generation, one Jack Kerouac whose first book 
came out this year. 

I do not know if you will like my poetry or not—that is, how 
far your own inventive persistence excludes less independent or 
youthful attempts to perfect, renew, transfigure, and make con- 
temporarily real an old style of lyric machinery, which 1 use to 
record the struggle with imagination of the clouds, with which I 
have been concerned. I enclose a few samples of my best writing. 
All that I have done has a program, consciously or not, running on 
from phase to phase, from the beginnings of emotional breakdown, 
to momentary raindrops from the clouds become corporeal, to a 
renewal of human objectivity which I take to be ultimately identical 
with no ideas but in things. But this last development I have yet 
to turn into poetic reality. I envision for myself some kind of new 
speech— different at least from what I have been writing down — in 
that it has to be clear statement of fact about misery (and not 
misery itself), and splendor if there is any" out of the subjective 
wanderings through Paterson. This place is as I say my natural 
habitat by memory, and I am not following in your traces to be 
poetic: though I know you will be pleased to realize that at least 
one actual citizen of your community has inherited your experience 
in his struggle to love and know his own world-city, through your 
work, which is an accomplishment you almost cannot have hoped 
to achieve. It is misery I see (like a tide out of my own fantasy) but 
mainly the splendor which I carry within me and which all free 
men do. But harking back to a few sentences previous, I may need a 
new measure myself, but though I have a flair for your style I 
seldom dig exactly what you are doing with cadences, line length, 



174 



sometimes syntax, eta, and cannot handle your work as a solid 
object— which properties I assume you rightly claim. I don't un- 
derstand the measure. I haven't worked with it much either, though, 
which must make the difference. But I would like to talk with you 
concretely on this. 

I enclose these poems. The first shows you where I was 
% years ago. The second, a kind of dense lyric I instinctively try to 
imitate-^after Crane, Robinson, Tate, and old Englishmen. Then, 
the Shroudy Stranger (3) less interesting as a poem (or less sincere) 
but k connects observations of things with an old dream of the 
void—I have real dreams about a classic hooded figure. But this 
dream has become identified with my own abyss — and with the 
abyss of old Smokies under the Erie R.R.. tracks on straight street 
>— so the shroudy stranger (4) speaking from the inside of the old 
wracked bum of Paterson or anywhere in America. This is only 
a half made poem (using a few lines and a situation I had in a 
dream). I contemplated a long work on the shroudy stranger, his 
wanderings. Next (5) an earlier poem, Radio City, a long lyric 
written in sickness. Then a mad song (to be sung by Groucho Marx 
to a Bop background.) (6), The (7) an old style ballad-type ghost 
dream poem. Then, an ode to the Setting Sun of abstract (8) ideas, 
written before leaving the hospital, and last an Ode to Judgment, 
which I just wrote, but which is unfinished. (9) What will come 
of all this I do not know yet. 

I know this letter finds you in good health, as I saw you speak 
at the Museum in N. Y. this week. I ran backstage to accost you, 
but changed my mind, after waving at you, and ran off again. 

Respectfully yours, 
AG. 

Paris, a fifth floor room, bread 
milk and chocolate, a few 
apples and coal to be carried, 
des briquettes, their special smell, 
at dawn: Paris . 
the soft coal smell, as she 
leaned upon the window before de- 
parting, for work . 



175 



— a furnace, a cavity aching 
toward fission; a hollow, 

a woman waiting to be filled 

— a luminosity of elements, the 
current leaping! 
Pitchblende from Austria, the 
valence of Uranium inexplicably 
increased. Curie, the man, gave up 
his work to buttress her. 

But she is pregnant! 

Poor Joseph, 

the Italians say. 

Glory to God in the highest 
and on earth, peace, goodwill to 
men! 

Believe it or not. 

A dissonance 

in the valence of Uranium 

led to the discovery 

Dissonance 

(if you are interested), 
leads to discovery 

— to dissect away 
the block and leave 
a separate metal: 

hydrogen 

the flame, helium the 
pregnant ash . 



the elephant takes two years 



Love, the 



Love is a kitten, a pleasant 

pounce. Qiases a piece of 
string, a scratch and a mew 
a ball batted with a paw 
a sheathed claw 




atom? No, No! antagonistic 



) says (to Chaucer) 



Thy drasty rymyng is not 

—and Chaucer seemed to think so too for he stopped and went 
on in prose ♦ 

Report of Cases 



si., a white woman aged 35, a 
ward, had no history of previous intestinal disturbance. A sister 
who lived with her suffered with cramps and diarrhea, later found 
by us to be due to amebiasis. On Nov. 8, 1944 a stool submitted by 
the nurse for the usual monthly examination was found to be posi- 
tive for Salmonella montevideo. The nurse was at once removed 
from duty with full pay, a measure found to be of advantage in 
having hospital 
fear of economic reprfc 




Pauvre itudiant 
en Van trentihne de mon age 
Item . with coarsened hands 
by the hour, the day, the week 
to get, after months of labor . v 

a stain at the bottom of the retort 
without weight, a failure, a 
nothing. And then, returning in the 
night, to find it 

LUMINOUS! 

On Friday, the twelfth of October, we anchored before the 
land and made ready to go ashore . There I sent the people 
for water, some with arms, and others with casks: and as it was 
some little distance, I waited two hours for them. 

During that time I walked among the trees which was the 
most beautiful thing which I had ever known. 

• knowledge, the contaminant 

Uranium, the complex atom, breaking 
down, a city in itself, that complex 
atom, always breaking down 
to lead. 

But giving off that, to an 
exposed plate, will reveal 

And so, with coarsened hands 

she stirs 

And love, bitterly contesting, waits 
that the mind shall declare itself not 
alone in dreams • 

A man like you should have everything he wants 
178 



not half asleep 
waiting for the sun to part the labia 
of shabby clouds . but a man (or 
a woman) achieved 

flagrant! 

adept at thought, playing the words 
following a table which is the synthesis 
of thought, a symbol that is to him, 
sun up! a Mendelief, the elements laid 
out by molecular weight, identity 
predicted before found! and 

Oh most powerful connective, a bead 
to lie between continents through 
which a string passes 

Ah Madaih! 

this is order, perfect and controlled 
on which empires, alas, are built 

But there may issue, a contaminant, 
some other metal radioactive 
a dissonance, unless the table lie, 
may cure the cancer . must 
lie in that ash . Helium plus, plus 
what? Never mind*, but plus a 
woman, a small Polish baby-nurse 
unable . 

Woman is the weaker vessel, but 
the mind is neutral, a bead linking 
continents, brow and toe 



and will at best take out 
its spate in mathematics 

replacing murder 

Sappho vs Elektra! 

The young conductor gets his orchestra 
and leaves his patroness 

with child. 

les idees Wilsoniennes nous 
gdtent . the vague irrelevances 
and the destructive silences 

inertia 

As Carrie Nation 

to Artemis 

so is our life today * 

They took her out West on a photographing 
expedition 

to study chiaroscuro 

to Denver, 1 think. 
Somewhere around there . 

the marriage 
was annulled. When she returned 

with the baby 

openly 

taking it to her girls' parties, they 

were shocked 

— and the Abbess Hildegard, at her own 

funeral, Rupertsberg, 1 179 

had enjoined them to sing the choral, all 

women, she had written for the occasion 

and it was done, the peasants kneeling 

in the background . as you may see 



Advertisement 



The Constitution says: To borrow money on the credit of the 
United States. It does not say: To borrow money from Private 
bankers. 

To explain the fallacies and illusions upon which our present 
method of financing the national budget is based would take too 
much space and time. To win the cold war we must reform our 
finance system. The Russians understand only force. We must be 
stronger than they and build more airplanes. 

FINANCE THE BUILDING OF AIRPLANES AS FOLLOWS: 

x* Pay the manufacturer with a NATIONAL CREDIT CER- 
TIFICATE. 

2. Manufacturer deposits the Certificate with his bank the same as 
a check. 

3. Banker returns National Credit Certificate to Treasury Dept.* 
which opens UNITED STATES NATIONAL CREDIT for 
banker. 

4. Banker in turn now opens BANKER'S CREDIT for depositor. 
Manufacturer draws checks against his credit as usual. 

5. Manufacturer pays his workers with checks upon his bank. 

6. Treasury Dept. pays Jbanker a service charge of 1% for han- 
dling the Treasury transaction. If the airplanes cost 1 million dol- 
lars the banker's profit would be $10,000. 

WHAT DO WE ACCOMPLISH BY USING THIS SYSTEM? 

1. Manufacturer is paid in full. 

2. Workers are paid in full. 

3. Bankers make a $10,000. profit every time he handles a 1 million 
dollar National Credit Certificate. 

4. We do not add to the National Debt. 

5. We do not have to increase federal taxation. 

6*. The only cost of the 1 million dollar airplane is only $10,000, the 
cost of the banker's service charges. 

7. We can build 100 airplanes for the price of one. 

I would like to have some smart economist or banker stick out 
his neck and contradict one single claim I present herewith to the 
nation. 

ENFORCE THE CONSTITUTION ON MONEY 

August Walters, Newark, N. J. 



181 



MONEY : JOKE (i.e., crime 

under the circumstances : value 
chipped away at accelerated pace.) 

— do you joke when a man is dying 

of a brain tumor? 

Take up the individual misfortune 
by buffering it into the locality — not 
penalize him with surgeon's fees 
and accessories at an advance over the 
market price for 

"hospital income" 

Who gets that? The poor? 

What poor? 

— ar $8.50 a day, ward rate? 

short of the possibility of recovery 

And not enrich the widow either 

long past fertility 

Money: Uranium (bound to be lead) 
throws out the fire 

— the radium's the credit — the wind in 
the trees, the hurricane in the 

palm trees, the tornado that lifts 
oceans • 

Trade winds that broached a continent 
drive the ship forward . 

Money sequestered enriches avarice, makes 
poverty: the direct cause of 
disaster • 

while the leak drips 
Let out the fire, let the wind go! 
Release the Gamma rays that cure the cancer 



• the cancer, usury. Let credit 
out • out from between the bars 
before the bank windows 

credit, stalled 
in money, conceals the generative 
that thwarts art or buys it (without 
understanding), out of poverty of wit, to 
win, vicariously, the blue ribbon 

to win 

the Congressional Medal 

for bravery beyond the call of duty but 

not to end as a bridge-tender 

on government dole 

Defeat may steel us 
in knowledge : money : joke 
to be wiped out sooner or later at stroke 
of pen • 

just because they ain't no water fit to drink in that spot (or 
you ain't found none) don't mean there ain't no fresh water to 
be had NOWHERE . . 

— and to Tolson and to his ode 
and to Liberia and to Allen Tate 
(Give him credit) 

and to the South generally 
Selahl 

— and to 100 years of it — splits 
off the radium, the Gamma rays 
will eat their bastard bones out who 
are opposed 

Selah! 



183 



Pobres bastardos, rmsqtderdos 
Pobrecitos 
Ay! que pobres 



— yuh wanna be killed with your 
face in the dirt and a son-of-a-bitch 
of z Guardia Civil giving you the 

coup de (dis)grace 
right in the puss . ? 

Selabf Selab! 

Credit! I hope you have a long credit 
and a dirty one 
Selab! 

What is credit? die Parthenon 

What is money? the gold entrusted to Phideas for the 

statue of Pallas Athena, that he "put aside" 
for private purposes 

— the gold, in short, that Phideas stole 
You can't steal credit : the Parthenon* 

— let's skip any reference, at this time, to the Elgin marbles. 

Reuther — shot through a window, at whose pay? 

— then there's Ben Shahn . 

Here follows a list of the mayors of 
120 American cities in the years following 
the Civil War. . or the War Between 
the States, if you prefer . like 
cubes of fat in the blufiwurst of the 
times 



184 



Credit Credit. Credit. Give them all credit. They were 
the fathers of many a later novelist no worse than the rest 

Money : Joke 
could be wiped out 
at stroke 
of pen 

and was when 

gold and pound were 

devalued 

Money : small time 

reciprocal action relic 

precedent to stream-lined 

turbine ; credit 

Uranium : basic thought — leadward 

Fractured : radium : credit 

Curie : woman (of no importance) genius : radium 

THE GIST 

credit : the gist 

IN 

venshun. 
O.KAY 

In venshun 

and seeinz az how yu hv/started. Will you consider 
a remedy of a lot : 

Le. LOCAL control of local purchasing 

power 

? ? 



185 



Difference between squalor of spreading slums 
and splendor of renaissance cities. 



Credit makes solid 
is related directly to the effort, 
work: value created and received, 
"the radiant gist" against all that 
scants our lives. 



186 



Haven't you forgot your virgin purpose, 
the language? 

What language? "The past is for those who 
lived in the past," is all she told me. 

Shh! the old man's asleep 

— all but for the tides, there is no river, 
silent now, twists and turns 
in his dreams . 

The ocean yawns! 

It is almost the hour 

—and did you ever know of a sixty year 
woman with child . ? 

Listen! 

someone's coming up the path, . perhaps 
it is not too late? Too late 

Jonathan, bap. Oct. 29, 1752; m..Gritie (Haring?). He was born 
and brought up at Hoppertown (Hohokus), but in 1779 was run- 
ning the grist and saw-mill at Wagaraw, now owned by the Alyeas. 
On the night of April 21, 1779, his wife was aroused by a noise as 
of someone trying to get into the lower part of the mill, where, 
for better security, he kept his horses. "Yawntan," said she in 
Dutch, "someone is stealing your horses." Lighting a lantern, he 
threw open the upper half -door and challenged the marauders. In- 
stantly a shot was fired through the lower half -door, wounding him 
in the abdomen. He staggered back into the house and fell upon a 
bed; covering himself up in the blankets. A party of Tories, masked 
and disguised, rushed in, and, compelling his young wife to hold 
a candle, they savagely attacked the prostrate form. Once he seized 
one of the bayonettes and holding it for a moment, cried at his as- 

187 



this is an old grudge." With 
inhuman savages bayonetted him, until with a groan he expired. 
His two infant children who were wont to sleep in a trundle bed 
beneath his, were horrified spectators of their father's massacre. 
After the murderers were gone, his wife and a neighbor took the 
blood out of the bed in double handfuls. The murdered man had 
received nineteen or twenty cruel bayonette thrusts. It was believed 

cal or pecuniary considerations than from motives of private re- 
venge. Hopper was a captain in the Bergen County militia. One of 
his children was Albert, bap. Oct. 6, 1776. It is said that Jonathan's 
children removed to Cincinnati, and there attained some promi- 
nence. 



Come on, get going. The tide's in 

Leise, leise! Lentement! Che va piano, 
va lontano! Virtue, 
my kitten, is a complex reward in all 
languages, achieved slowly. 

which reminds me of 
an old friend, now gone 



—while he was still 

in the hotel business, a tall and rather beautiful young woman came 
to his desk one day to ask if there were any interesting books to 
be had on the premises. He, being interested in literature, as she 
knew, replied that his own apartment was full of them and that, 
though he couldn't leave at the moment — Here's my key, go up 
and help yourself. 

She thanked him and 

went off. He forgot all about her. 

After lunch he too 

went to his rooms not remembering until he was at the door that 
he had no key. But the door was unlatched and as he entered, a 
girl was lying naked on the bed. It startled him a little. So much 
so that all he could do was to remove his own clothes and lie be* 
side her. Quite comfortable, he soon fell into a heavy sleep. She 
also must have slept. 

t They wakened later, 



188 



— another, once gave me 
an old ash-tray, a bit of 

porcelain inscribed 
with the legend, La Vertue 

est toute dans Peffort 
baked into the material, 

maroon on white, a glazed 
Venerian scallop . for 

ashes, fit repository 
for legend, a quieting thought: 

Virtue is wholly 

in the effort to be virtuous . 

This takes connivance, 

takes convoluted forms, takes 

time! A sea-shell 

Let's not dwell on childhood's 

lecherous cousins. Why 

should we? Or even on 

as comparatively simple 
a thing as the composite 

dandelion that 
changes its face overnight . Virtue, 

a mask: the mask, 

virtuous • 

Kill the explicit sentence, don't you think? and expand our mean- 
ing — by verbal sequences. Sentences, but not grammatical sen- 
tences: dead-falls set by schoolmen. Do you think there is any 
virtue in that? better than sleep? to revive us? 

She used to call me her 

country bumpkin 
Now she is gone I think 

of her as in Heaven 
She made me believe in 

it . a little 
Where else could she go? 

189 



There was 
Something grandiose 

about her . 
Man and woman are not 

much emphasized as 
such at that age: both 

want the same 
thing . to be amused. 

Imagine me 
at her funeral. I sat 

way back. Stupid, 
perhaps but no more so 

than any funeral. 
You might think she had 

a private ticket. 
I think she did; some 

people, not many, 
make you feel that way. 

It's in them. 

Virtue, she would say 

(her version of it) 
is a stout old bird, 

unpredictable. And 
so I remember her, 

adding, 
as she did, clumsily, 

not being used to 

such talk, that — 

Nothing does, does 

as it used to do 

do do! I loved her. 



All the professions, all the arts, 
idiots, criminals to the greatest 
lack and deformity, the stable parts 
making up a man's mind — fly 
after him attacking ears and eyes: 
small birds following marauding 
crows, in ecstasies . of fear 
and daring 

The brain is weak. It fails mastery, 
never a fact. 

To bring himself in, 
hold together wives in one wife and 
at the same time scatter it, 
the one in all of them . 

Weakness, 

weakness dogs him, fulfillment only 
a dream or in a dream. No one mind 
can do it all, runs smooth 
in the effort: toute dans V effort 

The greyhaired President 
(of Haiti), his women and children, 

at the water's edge, 
sweating, leads off finally, after 
delays, huzzahs, songs for pageant reasons 
over the blue water . 
in a private plane 

with his blonde secretary. 

Scattered, the fierceness 

of knowledge comes flocking down again— 



souvenir of childhood, 




and daring eyes who carried 
her head, 
as the mind might wish, 
at the best, to be carried. There was 
Lucille, gold hair and blue eyes, very 
straight, who 

to the amazement of many, married a 
saloon keeper and lost her modesty. 
There was loving Alma, who wrote a steady 
hand, whose mouth never wished for 
relief. And the cold Nancy, with small 
firm breasts • 

You remember? 



a high 

forehead, she who never smiled more 
than was sufficient but whose broad 
mouth was icy with pleasure startling 
the back and knees! whose words were 
few and never wasted. There were 
others — half hearted, the over-eager, 
the dull, pity for all of them, staring 
out of dirty windows, hopeless, indifferent, 
come too late and a few, too drunk 
with it — or anything — to be awake to 




and more — shining, struggling flies 
caught in the meshes of Her hair, of whom 
there can be no complaint, fast in 
die invisible net — from the back country, 
half awakened — all desiring. Not one 
to escape, not one « a fragrance 
of mown hay, facing the rapacious, 
die "great" . 



The whereabouts of Peter the Dwarfs grave was unknown un- 
til the end of the last century, when, in 1885, P. Doremus, under- 
taker, was moving bodies from the cellar of the old church to 
make room for a new furnace, he disinterred a small coffin and 
beside it a large box. In the coffin was the headless skeleton of what 
he took to be a child until he opened the large box and found 
therein an enormous skull. In referring to the burial records it was 
learned that Peter the Dwarf had been so buried. 

Yellow, for genius, the Jap said. Yellow 
is your color. The sun. Everybody looked. 
And you, purple, he added, wind over water. 

My serpent, my river! genius of the fields, 
Kra, my adored one, unspoiled by the mind, 
observer of pigeons, rememberer of 
cataracts, voluptuary of gulls! Knower 
of tides, counter of hours, wanings and 
waxings, enumerator of snowflakes, starer 
through thin ice, whose corpuscles are 
minnows, whose drink, sand . 

Here's to the baby, 
may it thrive! 
Here's to the labia 
that rive 

to give, it place 

in a stubborn world. 

And here's to the peak > 

from which the seed was hurled! 

In a deep-set valley between hills, almost hid 
by dense foliage lay the little village. 
Dominated by the Falls the surrounding country 
was a beautiful wilderness where mountain pink 
and wood violet throve: a place inhabited only 
by straggling trappers and wandering Indians. 



193 



A print in colors by Paul Sandby, a well known 

water color artist of the eighteenth century, 

a rare print in the Public Library 

shows the old Falls restudied from a drawing 

made by Lieut. Gov. Pownall (excellent work) as he 

saw it in the year 1 700. 

The wigwam and the tomahawk, the Totowa tribe • 

On either side lay the river-farms resting in 

the quiet of those colonial days: a hearty old 

Dutch stock, with a toughness to stick and 

hold fast, although not fast in making improvements. 

Clothing homespun. The people raised their own 
stock. Rude furniture, sanded floors, rush 
bottomed chair, a pewter shelf of Brittania 
ware. The wives spun and wove — - many things 
that might appear disgraceful or distasteful today 
The Benson and Doremus estates for years were 
the only ones on the north side of the river. 

Dear Doc: Since I last wrote I have settled down more, am working 
on a Labor newspaper (N. J. Labor Herald, AFL) in Newark. The 
owner is an Assemblyman and so I have a chance to see many of 
the peripheral intimacies of political life which in this neighbor- 
hood has always had for me the appeal of the rest of the land- 
scape, and a little more, since it is the landscape alive and busy. 

Do you know mat the west side of City Hall, the street, is 
nicknamed the Bourse, because of the continual political and bank- 
ing haggle and hassel that goes on there? 

Also I have been walking the streets and discovering the bars — 
especially around the great Mill and River streets. Do you know 
this part of Paterson? I have seen so many things — negroes, gypsies, 
an incoherent bartender in a taproom overhanging the river, filled 
with gas, ready to explode, the window facing die river painted 
over so that the people can't see it. I wonder if you have seen 
River Street most of all, because that is really at the heart of what 
is to be known. 



194 



I keep wanting to write you a long letter about deep things I 
can show you, and will some day — the look of streets and people, 
events that have happened here and there. 

A.G. 

• « • • • • • • * • • • 

There were colored slaves. In 179 1 only ten 
houses, all farm houses save one, The Godwin 
Tavern, the most historic house in Paterson, 
on River Street: a swinging sign on a high 
post with a full length picture of Washington 
painted on it, giving a squeaking sound when 
touched by the wind. 

Branching trees and ample gardens gave 
the village streets a delightful charm and 
the narrow old-fashioned brick walls added 
a dignity to the shading trees. It was a fair 
resort for Summer sojourners on their way 
to the Falls, the main object of interest. 

The sun goes beyond Garrett Mountain 
as evening descends, the green of its pine 
trees, fading under a crimson sky until 
all color is lost. In the town candle light 
x appears. No lighted streets. It is as dark 
as Egypt. 

There is the story of the cholera epidemic 
the well known man who ref used to bring his 
team into town for fear of infecting them 
but stopped beyond the river and carted his 
produce in himself by wheelbarrow — to the 
old market, in the Dutch style of those days. 



195 



Paterson, N. J., Sept. 17 — Fred Goodell Jr., twenty-two, was ar- 
rested early this morning and charged with the murder of his six- 
months-old daughter Nancy, for whom police were looking since 
Tuesday, when Goodell reported her missing. 

Continued questioning from last night until 1 ajn. by police 
headed by Chief James Walker drew the story of the slaying, 
police said, from the $40-a-week factory worker 4 few hours after 
he refused to join his wife, Marie, eighteen, in taking a lie detector 
test. 

At 2 ajn. Goodell led police a few blocks from his house to a 
spot on Garrett Mountain and showed them a heavy rock under 
which he had buried Nancy, dressed only in a diaper and placed 
in a paper shopping bag. 

Goodell told the police he had killed the child by twice snapping 
the wooden tray of a high chair into the baby's face Monday morn- 
ing when her crying annoyed him as he was feeding her. Dr. 
George Surgent, the county physician, said she died of a fractured 
skull. 

There was an old wooden bridge to Manchester, as 
Totowa was called in those days, which 
Lafayette crossed in 1824, while little 
girls strewed flowers in his path. Just 
across the river in what is now called the Old 
Gun Mill Yard was a nail factory where 
they made nails by hand. 

I remember going down to the old cotton 
mill one morning when the thermometer was 
down to 13 degrees below on the old bell 
post. In those days there were few steam 
whistles. Most of the mills had a bell post 
and bell, to ring out the news, "Come to work!" 

Stepping out of bed into a snow drift 
that had sifted in through the roof; then, 
after a porridge breakfast, walk 
five miles to work. When I got there I 
did pound the anvil for sartin', to keep 
up circulation. 



196 



In the early days of Paterson, the breathing 
spot of the village was the triangle square 
bounded by Park Street (now lower Main St.) 
and Bank Street. Not including the Falls it 
was the prettiest spot in town. Well shaded 
by trees with a common in the center where 
the country circus pitched its tents. 
On the Park Street side it ran down to 
the river. On the Bank Street side it ran 
to a roadway leading to the barnyard of 
the Goodwin House, the barnyard taking up 
part of the north side of the park. 

The circus was an antiquated affair, only 
a small tent, one ring show. They didn't 
allow circuses to perform in the afternoon 
because that would close up the mills. Time 
in those days was^ precious. Only in the 
evenings. But they were sure to parade their 
horses about the town about the time the 
mills stopped work. The upshot of the 
matter was, the town turned out to the circus 
in the evening. It was lighted 

in those days by candles especially 
made for the show. They were giants fastened 
to boards hung on wires about the tent, 
a peculiar contrivance. The giant candles 
were placed on the bottom boards, and two 
rows of smaller candles one above the other 
tapering to a point, forming a very pretty 
scene and giving plenty of light. 

The candles lasted during the performance 
presenting a weird but dazzling spectacle 
in contrast with the showy performers — 



Many of the old names and some of the 
places are not remembered now: McCurdyV 
Pond, Goffle Road, Boudinot Street. The 
Town Clock Building. The old-fashioned 
Dutch Church that burned down Dec. 14, 187 1 
as the clock was striking twelve midnight. 
Collet, Carrick, Roswell Colt, 
Dickerson, Ogden, Pennington 
The part of town called Dublin 
settled by the first Irish immigrants. If 
you intended residing in the old town you'd 
drink of the water of Dublin Spring. The 
finest water he ever tasted, said Lafayette. 

Just off Gun Mill yard, on the gully 
was a long rustic winding stairs leading 
to a cliff on the opposite side of the river. 
At the top was Fyfield's tavern — - watching 
the birds flutter and bathe in the little 
pools in the rocks formed by the falling 
mist — of the Falls . 

Paterson, N. J., January 9, 1850: — The murder last night of 
two pers&ns living at the Goffle, within two or three miles of this 
place has thrown our community into a state of intense excitement. 
The victims are John S. Van Winkle -and his wife, an aged couple, 
and long residents of this county. The atrocious deed was accom- 
plished as there appears no doubt by one John Johnson, a laboring 
farmer, and who at the time was employed by some of his neigh- 
bors in the same capacity. So far as we have been able to gather 
the particulars, it would seem that Johnson effected an entrance 
into the house through an upper window, by means of a ladder, 
and descending to the bedroom of his victims below, accomplished 
his murderous purpose by first attacking the wife who slept in 
front, then the husband, and again the wife. 

The second attack appears to have immediately deprived the 
w;fe of life; the husband is still living but his death is momentarily 
expected. The chief instrument used appears to have been a knife, 
though the husband bears one or more marks of a hatchet. The 



198 



hatchet was found next morning either in bed or on the floor, and 
the knife on the window sill, where it was left by the murderer in 
descending to the ground. 

A boy only slept in the same dwelling The fresh snow, 

however, enabled his pursuers to find and arrest their man. .... 
His object was doubtless money (which, however, he seemed not 
to have obtained).. 

Johnson inquired why they had tied him, "what have I done?" 
, . * • He was taken to the scene of murder and shown the 
objects of his barbarous cruelty, but the sight produced no other 
sensible effect than to extort from him an expression of pity, he 
denying any knowledge of participation in the inhuman butchery. 



Trip a trap o'troontjes 
De vaarkens in de boontjes — 
De kocien in de klaver— 
De paarden in de haver— 
De eenden in de waterplas, 

Plis! Plas! 
Zoo #r opt mijn kleine Derrick was! 

You come today to see killed 



as if it were a conclusion 

— a 

a convincing strewing of corpses 
— to move the mind 

as tho' the mind 
can be moved, the mind, I said 
by an array of hacked corpses: 



War! 



a poverty of resource 



guts on the black sands of Iwo 




199 



"What have I done?" 



—to convince whom? the sea worm? 
They are used to death and 
jubilate at it 

Murder. 



that it can begin again, again, here 



Waken from a dream, this dream of 
the whole poem . sea-bound, 

rises, a sea of blood 

— the sea that sucks in all rivers, 

dazzled, led 
by the salmon and the shad • 

Turn back 1 warn you 

(October 10, 1950) 
from the shark, that snaps 
at his own trailing guts, makes a sunset 
of the green water 

But lullaby, they say, the time sea is 
no more than sleep is . afloat 
with weeds, bearing seeds 




again 



here 



Ah! 



float wrack, float words, snaring the 
seeds . 



I warn you, the sea is not our home. 

the sea is not our home 

The sea is our home whither all rivers 
(wither) run 

the nostalgic sea 
sopped with our cries 

Thalassa! Thalassa! 

calling us home 

I say to you, Put wax rather in your 
ears against the hungry sea 

it is not our home! 

draws us in to drown, of losses 
and regrets . 

Oh that the rocks of the Areopagus had 
kept their sounds, the voices of the law! 
Or that the great theatre of Dionysius 
could be aroused by some modern magic 

to release 
what is bound in it, stones! 
that music might be wakened from them to 
melt our ears 

The sea is not our home 

— though seeds float in with the scum 
and wrack . among brown fronds 
and limp starfish 

Yet you will come to it, come to it! The 
song is in your ears, to Oceanus 
where the day drowns 



No! it is not our home. 



You will come to it, the blood dark sea 
of praise. You must come to it. Seed 
of Venus, you will return . to 
a girl standing upon a tilted shell, rose 
pink 

w Listen! 
Thalassa! Thalassa! 

Drink of it, be drunk! 
Thalassa 

immaculata: our home, our nostalgic 
mother in whom the dead, enwombed again 
cry out to us to return 

the blood dark sea! 
nicked by the light alone, diamonded 
by the light . from which the sun 
alone lifts undamped his wings 

of fire! 

not our home! It is NOT 
our home. 

What's that? 
—a duck, a hell-diver? A swimming dog? 
What, a sea-dog? There it is again. 
A porpoise, of course, following 
the mackerel . No. Must be the up- 
end of something sunk. But this is moving! 
Maybe not. Flotsam of some sort. 



A large, compact bitch gets up, black, 
from where she has been lying 
under' the bank, yawns and stretches with 
a half suppressed half whine, half cry . 
She looks to sea, cocking her ears and, 
restless, walks to the water's edge where 
she sits down, half in the water 

When he came out, lifting his knees 
through the waves she went to him frisking 
her rump awkwardly' 
Wiping his face with his hand he turned 
to look back to the waves, then 
knocking at his ears, walked up 
to stretch out flat on his back in 
the hot sand • there were some 
girls, far down the beach, playing ball. 

— must have slept. Got up again, rubbed 

the dry sand off and walking a 

few steps got into a pair of faded 

overalls, slid his shirt on overhand (the 

sleeves were still rolled up) shoes, 

hat where she had been watching them under 

the bank and turned again 

to the water's steady roar, as of a distant 

waterfall . Climbing the 

bank, after a few tries, he picked 

some beach plums from a low bush and 

sampled one of them, spitting the seed out, 

then headed inland, followed by the dog 

John Johnson, from Liverpool, England, was convicted after 20 
minutes conference by the Jury. On April 30th, 1850, he was hung 
in full view of thousands who had gathered on Garrett Mountain 
and adjacent house tops to witness the spectacle. 



203 



This is the blast 
the eternal close 
the spiral 

the final somersault 
the end. 



Book Five 

J 



To the Memory 
of 

Henri Toulouse Lautrec, 
Painter 



I 



In oid age 

the mind 

casts off 
rebelliously 
an eagle 
from its crag 

— the angle of a forehead 

or far less 
makes him remember when he thought 

he had forgot 

— remember 

confidently 
only a moment, only for a fleeting moment — 
with a smile of recognition 

It is early ... 
the song of the fox sparrow 
reawakening the world 
of Paterson 

— its rocks and streams 
frail tho it is 
from their long winter sleep 

In March — 

the rocks 
the bare rocks 



it is a cloudy morning. 

He looks out the window 

sees the birds still there — 

207 



Not prophecy! NOT prophecy! 

but the thing itself! 

— the first phase, 
Lorca's The Love of Don Terlmipliriy 
the young girl 

no more than a child 
leads her aged bridegroom 

innocently enough 

to his downfall — 

— at the end of the play, (she was a hot 
little bitch but nothing unusual — today we marry women who are 
past their prime, Juliet was 13 and Beatrice 0 when Dante first saw 
her). 

Love's whole gamut, the wedding night's promiscuity in the girl's 
mind, her determination not to be left out of the party, as a moral 
gesture, if ever there was one 

The moral 



proclaimed by the whorehouse 

could not be better proclaimed 
by the virgin, a price on her head, 
her maidenhead! 

sharp practice 

to hold on to that 

cheapening it: 

Throw it away! (as she did) 

The Unicorn 

the white one-horned beast 
thrashes about 

root toot a toot! 

faceless among the stars 
calling 

for its own murder 



208 



Paterson, from the air 

above the low range of its hills 
across the river 

on a rock-ridge 

has returned to the old scenes 
to witness 

What has happened 

since Soupault gave him the novel 
the Dadaist novel 

to translate — 

The Last Nights of Paris. 

"What has happened to Paris 

since that time? 

and to myself"? 

A WORLD OF ART 
THAT THROUGH THE YEARS HAS 

SURVIVED/ 

— the museum became real 

The Cloisters — 

on its rock 

casting its shadow — 

"la realite! la realite! 

la rea, la rea, la realite!" 

Dear Bill; 

I wish you and F. could have come. It was a grand day and we 
missed you two, one and all missed you. Forgetmenot, wild col- 
umbine, white and purple violets, white narcissus, wild anemones 
and yards and yards of delicate wild windflowers along the brook 
showed up at their best. We didn't have hard cider or applejack 
this time but wine and vodka and lots of victuals. . . . The 



209 



erstwhile chicken house has been a studio for years, one D.E. envied 
when he saw it and it has been occupied by one person or another 
writing every summer when I am here which has been pretty con- 
tinuously for some time. The barn too has a big roomy floor which 
anyone who finds a table and a chair in space enlivening is welcome 
to. E.*s even fondled the idea of "doing something" about the barn 
and I wish they would. Their kids went in bathing in the brook, 
painted pictures and explored. If you ever feel like coming and get 
transportation please come. E.*ll be up again before leaving Prince- 
ton in June. They will be in H. next year. J.G. is occupying the 
"Guest House" now. 

How lovely to read your memories of the place; a place is made of 
memories as well as the world around it. Most of the flowers were 
put in many years ago and thrive each spring, the wild ones in some 
new spot that is exciting to see. Hepatica and bloodroot are now 
all over the place, and trees that were infants are now tall crea- 
tures filled this season with orioles, some rare warbler like the 
Myrtle and magnolia warblers and a wren has the best nest in the 
garage (not to be confounded with any uptodate shelter) where I 
had a coat lines with shipskin hanging and the wren simply used it 
to back her nest against where she is sitting warm and pretty on 
five eggs. 

Best wishes and love from everyone who was here 

Josie 



The whore and the virgin, an i< 
— through its disguises 

thrash about — but will not succeed in breaking free 

an identity 
Audubon (Au-du-bon), (the lost Dauphin) 

left the boat 

downstream 

below the falls of the Ohio at Louisville 

to follow 
a trail through the woods 

across three states 

northward of Kentucky . 



210 



He saw buffalo 

and more 

a horned beast among the trees 

in the moonlight 

following small birds 
the chicadee 

in a field crowded with small flowers 
. . its neck 

circled by a crown! 

from a regal tapestry of stars! 
lying wounded on his belly 

legs folded under him 
the bearded head held 

regally aloft 

What but indirection 
will get to the end of the sphere? 

Here 
is not there, t -. v . 

and will never be. 

The Unicorn 

has no match 

or mate . the artist 

has no peer . 

Death 

has no peer: 
wandering in the woods, 

a field crowded with small flowers 
in which the wounded beast lies down to rest 

We shall not get to the bottom: 

death is a hole 

in which we are all buried 

Gentile and Jew. 



211 



The flower dies down 
and rots away 
But there is a hole 
in the bottom of the bag. 

It is the imagination 
which cannot be fathomed. 
It is through this hole 
we escape . . 

So through art alone, male and female, a field of 
flowers, a tapestry, spring flowers unequaled 
in loveliness. 

Through this hole 
at the bottom of the cavern 
of death, the imagination 
escapes intact. 

he bears a collar round his neck 
hid in the bristling hair. 

Dear Dr. Williams: 

Thanks for your introduction. The book is over in England be- 
ing printed, and will be out in July sometime. Your foreword is 
personal and compassionate and you got the point of what has 
happened. You should see what strength & gaiety there is beyond 
that though. The book will contain . . . I have never 
been interested in writing except for the splendor of actual experi- 
ence etc. . bullshit, I mean I've never been really crazy, con- 
fused at times. 

• • « • • • • • ■ * « . • • • 

I am leaving for the North pole this time on a ship in a few weeks. 
. . . I'll see icebergs and write great white polar rhapsodies. 
Love to you, back in October and will pass thru Paterson to see 
family on way to a first trip to Europe. I have NOT absconded 



212 



from Paterson. I do have a whitmanic mania & nostalgia for cities 
and detail & panorama and isolation in jungle and pole, like the 
images you pick up. When I've seen enough I'll be back to splash in 
the Passaic again only with a body so naked and happy City Hall 
will have to call out the Riot Squad. When I come back 1*11 make 
big political speeches in the mayoralty campaigns like I did when 
I was 1 6 only this time I'll have W. C. Fields on my left and 
Jehovah on my right. Why not? Paterson is only a big sad poppa 
who needs compassion. • In any case Beauty is where I hang 
my hat. And reality. And America. 

There is no struggle to speak to the city, out of the stones etc. 
Truth is not hard to find . . . I'm not being clear, so Til 
shut up . . I mean to say Paterson is not a task like 
Milton going down to hell, it's a flower to the mind too etc etc 

> 

A magazine will be put out . . . etc. 
• • • • • ■ • • • • • * • 

Adios. ' 
A.G. 

IF YOU DONT HAVE ANY TIME FOR ANYTHING ELSE 
PLEASE READ THE ENCLOSED 
SUNFLOWER SUTRA 

— the virgin and the whore, which 

most endures? the world 

of the imagination most endures: 

Pollock's blobs of paint squeezed out 
with design! 

pure from the tube. Nothing else 
is real 

WALK in the world 

(you can't see anything 
from a car window, still less 
from a plane, or from the moon! ? Come 
off of it.) 

213 



— a present, a "present" 
world, across three states (Ben Shahn saw it 
among its rails and wires, 
and noted it down) walked across three states 
for it 

a secret world, 
a sphere, a snake with its tail in 
its mouth 

rolls backward into the past 



The whores grasping for your genitals, faces almost 
pleading . . "two dolla, two dolla" till you almost go in 
with the sheer brute desire straining at your loins, the whisky and 
the fizzes and the cognac in you till a friend grabs you 
"no . . . to a real house, this is shit." A reel house, a real 
house? Casa real? Casa de putas? and then the walk through the 
dark streets, joy of living, in being drunk and walking with other 
drunks, walking the streets of dust in a dusty year in a dusty cen- 
tury where everything is dust but you are young and you are 
drunk and there are women ready to love for some paper in your 
pocket. Through the streets with dozens of bands of other soldiers 
(they are soldiers even with civilian clothes, soldiers as you are 
but different and this band is different because you are you — and 
drunk and Baudelaire and Rimbaud and a soul with a book in it 
and drunk) a woman steps into the open door of a cafe and puts 
her hand between her legs and smiles at you . . . at you a 
whore smiles! And you yell back and all yell back and she yells 
and laughs and laughter fills . . . the . * . guitar 
soaked night air. 

And then the house, . . ... and see a smooth faced girl 
against a door, all white . . * . snow, the virgin, O bride 
. crook her finger and the vestal not-color of it, the 
clean hair of her and the beauty of her body in the orchid stench, 
in the vulgar assailing stench the fragility and you walk and sway 
across the floor, and reel against the door and push away the voice 
that embraces your ear dancers and find her, still standing against 
the door and she is smooth-faced and wants four dollars but you 



214 



make it three but four she says and you argue and her hand on your 
belly and she moves it and four and you can hear the music spin- 
ning out its tropical redness the beer you gulp and touch the 
breast, the firmness FOUR no three and smile a girl is carried out 
of the room by a soldier (bride eternal) smile FOUR no three the 
hand! the breast, you touch grasp hold lust feel the curve of a 
buttock silent-smooth sliding under your palm, the dress, the hand! 

High heels clack clack laughs nose and her eyes are black and 
four? please and you pay four? no . three . and then yes 
four, quatro • . . quatro dolares but twice, I go twice, 
'andsome, come on, 'andsome. A child you follow her, the light 
whirling in your eyes the noise the other girls in the babel friends' 
voices unintelligible, edged with laughter the face at which you 
smile though there is nothing to smile at but smile absurdly because 
making love to a whore is funny but it is not funny as her blood 
beneath flesh, her fingers fragile touch yours in rhythm not 
funny but heat and passion blight and white, brighter-white than 
lights of the whorehouses, than the gin fizz white, white and deep 
as birth, deeper than death. 

G.S. 

A lady with the tail of her dress 

on her arm . her hair is 

slicked back showing the round 
, head, like her cousin's, the King, 

the royal consort's, young as she 
i in a velvet bonnet, puce, 

slanted above the eyes, his legs 

are in striped hose, green and brown. 

The lady's brow is serene 

to the sound of a huntsman's horn 

— the birds and flowers, the castle showing through the letVH of 
the trees, a pheasant drinks at the fountain, his shadow drinki fhfft 
also 



an 



cyclamen, columbine, if the art 
with which these flowers have been 
put down is to be trusted — and 
again oak leaves and twigs 
that brush the deer's antlers . . 

the brutish eyes of the deer 

not to be confused 

with the eyes of the Queen 

are glazed with death . 
a rabbit's rump escaping 
through the thicket . 

One warm day in April, G.B. had the inspiration to go in swim- 
ming naked with the boys, among whom, of course, was her 
brother, a satyr if there ever was one, to beat anybody up who 
presumed to molest her. It was at Sandy Bottom, near Willow 
Point where in later years we used to have picnics. That was be- 
fore she turned whore and got syphilis. L.M. about that time, a 
young sailor, went to Rio unafraid of "children's diseases" as the 

French (and others) called them — but it was no joke as Gauguin 
found out when his brains began to rot away 

the times today 

are safer for the fornicators 
the moral's 
as you choose but the brain 
need not putrefy 

or petrify 
for fear of venereal disease 
unless you wish it 

"Loose your love to flow" 

while you are yet young 

male and female 
(if it is worth it to you) 
'n cha cha cha 

you'd think the brain 

'd be grafted 

on a better root 



216 



** . I am no authority on Sappho and do not read her poetry 
particularly well. She wrote for a clear gentle tinkling voice. She 
avoided all roughness. 'The silence that is in the starry sky/ gives 
something of her tone, . " 

A. P. 

Peer of the gods is that man, who 
face to face, sits listening 
to your sweet speech and lovely 
laughter. 

It is this that rouses a tumult 
in my breast. At mere sight of you 
my voice falters, my tongue 
is broken. 

Straightway, a delicate fire runs in 
my limbs; my eyes 
are blinded and my ears 
thunder. 

Sweat pours out: a trembling hunts 
me down. I grow paler 
than dry grass and lack little 
of dying. 

13 Nv/ Oke Hay my BilBill The Bui Bull, ameer 

Is there anything in Ac Bui 2/ vide enc that seems cloudy to you, 
or INComprehensible/ 

or that having comprehended you disagree with? 

The hardest thing to discover is WHY someone else, apparently 
not an ape or a Roosevelt cannot understand something as simple 
as 2 plus 2 makes four. 

217 



McNair Wilson has just writ me, that Soddy got interested and 
started to study "economics" and found out what they offered him 
wasn't econ/ but banditry. 

Wars are made to make debt, and the late one started by the 
ambulating dunghill FDR ... has been amply successful. 

and the stink that elevated 

him still emits a smell. 

Also the ten vols/ treasury reports sent me to Rapallo show that in 
the years from departure of Wiggin till the mail stopped you 
suckers had paid ten billion for gold that cd/ have been bought for 
SIX billion. 

Is this clear or do you want DEEtails? 

That sovereignty inheres in the POWER to issue money, whether 
you have the right to do it or not. 

don't let me crowd you. 
If there is anything here that is OBskewer , say so. 

don't worry re ... 

He didnt say you told him to send me his book, merely that he 
had metChu. let the young educ the young. 

Only naive remark I found in Voltaire wuz when he found two 
good books on econ/ and wrote : "Now people will under- 
stand it." end quote. 

But IF the buzzards on yr( and Del M's) list had been CLEAR 
I wdn't have spent so much time clarifying their indistinctnesses. 

You agree that the offering da shittad aaabull instead of history is 
undesirable ?????? 



218 



There is a woman in our town 
walks rapidly, flat bellied 
in worn slacks upon the street 
where I saw her. 

neither short 
nor tall, nor old nor young 
her 

face would attract no 

: 

adolescent. Grey eyes looked 
straight before her. 

Her 

hair 

was gathered simply behind the 
ears under a shapeless hat. 

Her 

hips were narrow, her 

legs 

thin and straight. She stopped 

me in my tracks — until I saw 
her 

disappear in the crowd. 

An inconspicuous decoration 
made of sombre cloth, meant 
I think to be a flower, was 
pinned flat to her 

right 

breast — any woman might have 
done the same to 
say she was a woman and warn 
us of her mood. Otherwise 



she was dressed in male attire, 
as much as to say to hell 
with you. Her 

expression was 

serious, her 

feet were small. 
And she was gone! 

if ever I see you again 
as I have sought you 
daily without success 

FU speak to you, alas 
too late! ask, 

What are you doing on the 

streets of Paterson? a 

thousand questions: 

Are you married? Have you any 

children? And, most important, 
your NAME! which 
of course she may not 

give me — though 
I cannot conceive it 
in such a lonely and 

intelligent woman 

have you read anything that I have written? 
all for you 



or the birds , 
or Mezz Mezzrow 

who wrote 

Knocking around with Rapp and the Rhythm Kings put the 
finishing touches on me and straightened me out. To be with 
those guys made me know that any white man if he thought 
straight and studied hard, could sing and dance and play with the 
Negro. You didn't have to take the finest and most original and 
honest music in America and mess it up because you were a white 
man; you "could dig the colored man's real message and get in there 
with him, like Rapp. I felt good all over after a session with the 
Rhythm Kings, and I began to miss that tenor sax. 
Man, I was gone with it — inspiration's mammy was with me. And 
to top it all, I walked down Madison Street one day and what I 
heard made me think my ears were lying. Bessie Smith was shout- 
ing the Downhearted Blues from a record in a music shop. I flew 
in and bought up every record they had by the mother of the blues 
— Cemetery Blues, BleedirC Hearted, and Midnight Blues — then 
I ran home and listened to them for hours on the victrola. I was 
put in a trance by Bessie's moanful stories and the patterns of true 
harmony in the piano background,, full of little runs that crawled 
up and down my spine like mice Every note that woman wailed 
vibrated on the tight strings of my nervous system: every word 
she sang answered a question I was asking. You couldn't drag me 
away from that victrola, not even to eat. 

or the Satyrs, a 

pre-tragic play, 

a satyric play! 

All plays 

were satyric when they were most devout. 
Ribald as a Satyr! 

Satyrs dance! 

all the deformities take wing 
Centaurs 



leading to the rout of the vocables 

in the writings 
of Gertrude 

Stein — but 

you cannot be 

an artist 

* by mere ineptitude 

The dream 

is in pursuit! 
The neat figures of 

Paul Klee 

fill the canvas 

but that 

is not the work 

of a child 
the cure began, perhaps 

with the abstraction 

of Arabic art 

Diirer 

with his Melancholy 

was aware of it — 
the shattered masonry. Leonardo 
saw it, 

the obsession, 

and ridiculed it 

in La Gioconda. 

Bosch's 

congeries of tortured souls and devils 
who prey on them 
fish 

swallowing 

their own entrails 

Freud 

Picasso 

Juan Gris. 



a letter from a friend 
saying: 

For the last 

three nights 

I have slept like a baby 
without 
liquor or dope of any sort ! 

we know 

that a stasis 

from a chrysalis 

has stretched its wings 
like a bull 

or a Minotaur 

or Beethoven 

in the scherzo 
from the Fifth Symphony 
stomped 

- his heavy feet 

I saw love 

mounted naked on a horse 
on a swan 

the tail of a fish 

the bloodthirsty conger eel 
and laughed 

recalling the Jew 
in the pit 

among his fellows 
when the indifferent chap 

with the machine gun 

was spraying the heap 
he had not yet been hit 

but smiled 
comforting his companions 
comforting 

his companions 



Dreams possess me 

and the dance 

of my thoughts 

involving animals 

the blameless beasts 

(Q. Mr. Williams, can you tell me, simply, what poetry is? 

A. Well . . . I would say that poetry is language charged 
with emotion. It's words, rhythmically organized 
A poem is a complete little universe. It exists separately. Any 
poem that has worth expresses the whole life of the poet. It 
gives a view of what the poet is. 

Q. All right, look at mis part of a poem by £. £. Cummings, an- 
other great American poet: 

(im)c-a-t(tno) 
b4vl:e 

FallleA 
l*!n 

Oattumblf 

sh?dr 
IftwhirlF 
(Ul) (1Y) 
&&& 

Is this poetry? 

A. I would reject it as a poem. It may be, to him, a poem. But 

1 would reject it. I can't understand it. He's a serious man. 
So I struggle very hard with it — and I get no meaning 
at aH 

Q. You get no meaning? But here's part of a poem you your- 
self have written: ... "2 partridges/ 2 mallard 
ducks/ a Dungeness crab/ 24 hours out/ of the Pacific/ and 

2 live-frozen/ trout/ from Denmark . . . " Now, 
that sounds just like a fashionable grocery list! 



224 



A. It is a fashionable grocery list. 
Q, Well — is it poetry? 

A. We poets have to talk in a language which is not English. It 
is the American idiom. Rhythmically it's organized as a sam- 
ple of the American idiom. It has as much originality as jazz. 
If you say "2 partridges, 2 mallard ducks, a Dungeness crab" 
— if you treat that rhythmically, ignoring the practical sense, 
it forms a jagged pattern, ft is, to my mind, poetry. 

Q. But if you don't "ignore the practical sense' 1 . . . you 
agree that it is a fashionable grocery list. 

A. Yes. Anything is good material for poetry. Anything. I've 
said it time and time again. 

Q« Aren't we supposed to understand it? 

A. There is a difference of poetry and the sense. Sometimes 
modern poets ignore sense completely. That's what makes 
some of the difficulty . The audience is confused 

by the shape of the words. 

Q. But shouldn't a word mean something when you see it? 

A. In prose, an English word means what it says. In poetry, 
you're listening to two things , . you're listening 
to the sense, the common sense of what it says. But it says 
more. That is the difficulty. 

• • . • > • •-.»*,. ) 



225 



Peter Brueghel, the elder, painted 
a Nativity, painted a Baby 
new born! 
among the words. 

Armed men, 
savagely armed men 

armed with pikes, 
halberds and swords 
whispering men with averted faces 
got to the heart 

of the matter 
as they talked to the potbellied 
greybeard (center) 
the butt of their comments, 
looking askance, showing their 
amazement at the scene, 
features like the more stupid 
German soldiers of the late 
war 

— but the Baby (a^from an 
illustrated catalogue 

in colors) lies naked on his Mother's 
knees 

— it is a scene, authentic 
enough, to be witnessed frequently 
among the poor (I salute 

the man Brueghel who painted 
what he saw — 

many times no doubt 
among his own kids but not of course 
in this setting) 



The crowned and mitred heads 
of the 3 men, one of them black, 
who had come, obviously from afar 
(highwaymen? ) 
by the rich robes 
they had on — offered 
to propitiate their gods 

Their hands were loaded with gifts 

— they had eyes for visions 
in those days — and saw, 
saw with their proper eyes, 
these things 

to the envy of the vulgar soldiery 
He painted 

the bustle of the scene, 
the unkernpt straggling 
hair of the old man in the 
middle, his sagging lips 

incredulous 

that there was so much fuss 

about such a simple thing as a baby 

born to an old man 

out of a girl and a pretty girl 

at that 

But the gifts! (works of art, 
where could they have picked 
them up or more properly 
have stolen them? ) 

— how else to honor 

an old man, or a woman? 



— the soldiers' ragged clothes, 

mouths open, 

their knees and feet 

broken from 30 years of 

war, hard campaigns, their mouths 

watering for the feast which 

had been provided 

Peter Brueghel the artist saw it 
from the two sides: the 
imagination must be served — 
and he served 

dispassionately 

It is no mortal sin to be poor — anything but this featureless 
tribe that has the money now — staring into the atom, com- 
pletely blind — without grace or pity, as if they were so many 
shellfish. The artist, Brueghel, saw them . : the 
suits of his peasants were of better stuff, hand woven, than we 
can boast. 

- have come in our time to the age of shoddy, the men are 
shoddy, driven by their bosses, inside and outside the job to 
be done, at a profit. To whom? But not true of the Portuguese 
mason, his own boss "in the new country" who is building a 
wall for me, moved by oldworld knowledge of what is "virtu- 
ous" . "that stuff they sell you in the stores nowa- 
days, no good, break in your hands . that manufac- 
tured stuff, from the factory, break in your hands, no care 
what they turn out . . •") 

The Gospel according to St. Matthew, Chapter 1, verse 18,— 
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When a§ his mother 
Miriam * was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she 
was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 

* The King James version, of course, reads "Mary " but it is 
recalled that Dr. Williams often referred to the mother of Jesus 
as Miriam." Cf. the Hebrew Miryam as root for both names. — Ed. 

228 



19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to 
make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the 
Lord, appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of 
David, fear not to take unto thee Miriam thy wife: for that which 
is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 

Luke . . But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them 
in her heart. 

no woman is virtuous 
who does not give herself to her lover 
— forthwith 

Dear Bill: 

» • * # * * 9 m • * • t t • * 

a. * 

I am told by a dear friend in Paris, G.D. who is married to Henri 
Matisse's daughter, and who is the one vibrant head I have met in 
Europe, that France today is ruled by the gendarme and the con- 
cierge. In socialist Denmark I knew a highly intelligent author, a 
woman, who had come to America and there had a child by a 
wretched scribbler. Poor and forsaken she had returned to Copen- 
hagen, where she earned her niggard indigence doing review* for 
the Politiken, and giving occasional lectures on Middle Kngltfth and 
early Danish. She lived in the slummy part of that beautiful dry, 
trying to support a wonderful boy, sturdy, loving, and very mat* 
culine. It was my joy to bring him oranges, chocolate, and thoM 
precious morsels which his mother could not afford. She told Hit 
that the socialist police had called on her one night, asking why 
she had not paid her taxes to the government. Poverty wai (iff 
reply. Do you recall the epitaph on Thomas Churchyard*! tomb* 
stone? . . . 'Poverty and Obscurity doth thin tomb §fM 
close.* A week later they returned, threatening to removt h*f fwf* 
niture and have it impounded by the government. When lite Igftlfi 
pleaded that if she gave what Kroners she had her little boy would 
starve, the police said: 'We went to the Vin Handel I«m fVftttflfj 
and learned from the proprietor that you had benight a boillt m 



tit 



wine; if you can afford to drink wine you certainly can pay your 
taxes.' She then said 1 am so poor, and so driven to despair by it 
that I had to have a bottle of wine to relieve me of my melancholia.' 

I am quite sure too that people only have the kind of govern- 
ment that their bellies crave. Furthermore, I cannot cure one soul 
in the earth. Plato took three journeys to Dionysius, the Tyrant 
of Syracuse, and once was almost killed and on another occasion 
was nearly sold into slavery because he imagined that he influenced 
a devil to model his tyranny upon The Republic. Seneca was the 
teacher of Nero, and Aristotle tutored Alexander of Macedon. 
What did they teach? 

We are content here because it is cheap; my wife can eat Cha- 
teaubriand for seven pesetas, about 15 or 16 cents. Going to the 
shops in the morning is a ritual; there is the greeting from the 
woman who runs the panaderia, and the salutation (courtesy al- 
ways eases the spirit and relieves the nervous system), from the 
man or his wife at the lecheria (where you get milk, and an ex- 
pansive smile from the humble woman who sells you three pesetas 
worth of helio, ice) . . . , 

Edward 

Paterson has grown older 

the dog of his thoughts 

has shrunk 

to no more than "a passionate letter" 
to a woman, a woman he had neglected 
to put to bed in the past . 

And went on 

living and writing 



letters 

and tending his flower 
garden, cutting his grass and trying 
to get the young 

to foreshorten 



230 



their, errors in the use of words which 
he had found so difficult, the errors 
he had made in the use of the 
poetic line: 

" . die unicorn against a millefieurs background, 

There's nothing sentimental about the technique of writing. It can't 
be learned, you'll say, by a fool. But any young man with a mind 
bursting to get out, to get down on a page even a clean sentence 
— gets courage from an older man who stands ready to help him — 
to talk to. 

A flight of birds, all together, 

seeking their nests in the season 

a flock before dawn, small birds 

"That slepen al the night with open ye," 

moved by desire, passionately, they 

have come a long way, commonly. 

Now they separate and go by pairs 

each to his appointed mating. The 

colors of their plumage are undecipherable 

in the sun's glare against the sky 

but the old man's mind is stirred 

by the white, the yellow, the black 

as if he could see them there. 

Their presence in the air again 
calms him. Though he is approaching 
death he is possessed by many poems. 
Flowers have always been his friends, 
even in paintings and tapestries 
which have lain through the past 
in museums jealously guarded, treated 
against moths. They draw him imperiously 



231 



to witness them, make him think 

of bus schedules and how to avoid 

the irreverent — to refresh himself 

at the sight direct from the 12th 

century what the old women or the young 

or men or boys wielding their needles 

to put in her green thread correctly 

beside the purple, myrtle beside 

holly and the brown threads beside: 

together as the cartoon has plotted it 

for them. All together, working together — 

all the birds together. The birds 

and leaves are designed to be woven 

in his mind eating and 

all together for his purposes 

— the aging body 

with the deformed great-toe nail 
makes itself known 

coming 

to search me out — with a 
rare smile 

among the thronging flowers of that field 
where the Unicorn 

is penned by a low 

wooden fence 

in April! 

the same month 
when at the foot of the post 

he saw the man dig up 
the red snake and kill it with a spade. 
Godwin told me 
its tail 

would not stop wriggling till 
after the sun 

goes down — 



232 



he knew everything 

or nothing 

and died insane 
when he was still a young man 



The (self) direction has been changed 
the serpent 

its tail in its mouth 
"the river has returned to its beginnings" 
and backward 

(and forward) 
it tortures itself within me 

until time has been washed finally under 
and "I knew all (or enough) 
it became me . " 

— the times are not heroic 
since then = . * 

but they are cleaner 

and freer of disease 
the mind rotted within them 
we'll say 

the serpent 

has its tail in its mouth 
AGAIN! 

the all-wise serpent 

Now I come to the small flowers 

that cluster about the feet 
of my beloved 

— the hunt of 



the god of love 

of virgin birth 



The mind is the demon 
drives us . well, 
would you prefer it to 
turn vegetable and 

wear no beard? 



— shall we speak of love 

seen only in a mirror 

— no replica? 
reflecting only her impalpable spirit? 

which is she whom I see 

and not touch her flesh? 

The Unicorn roams the forest of all true 
lovers' minds. They hunt it down. Bow wow! sing hey the 
green holly! 

— every married man carries in his head 

the beloved and sacred image 
of a virgin 

whom he has whored 

but the living fiction 
a tapestry 
silk and wool shot with silver threads 

a milk-white one-horned beast 

I, Paterson, the King-self 

saw the lady 

through the rough woods 

outside the palace walls 
among the stench of sweating horses 
and gored hounds 

yelping with pain 
the heavy breathing pack 

to see the dead beast 

brought in at last 

234 



across the saddlebow 

among the oak trees. 
Paterson, 

keep your pecker up 

whatever the detail! 

Anywhere is everywhere: 
You can learn from poems 

that an empty head tapped on 
sounds hollow 
in any language! The figures 
are of heroic size. 

The woods 
are cold though it is summer 

the lady's gown is heavy 

and reaches to the grass. 



All about, small flowers fill the scene. 

A second beast is brought in 
wounded. 
And a third, survivor of the chase, 

lies down to rest a while, 
his regal neck 
fast in a jeweled collar. 

A hound lies on his back 
eviscerated 
by the beast's single horn. 

Take it or leave it, 

if the hat fits — 
put it on. Small flowers 

seem crowding to be in on the act: 
the white sweet rocket, 
on its branching stem, four petals 
one near the other to 

fill in the detail 



from frame to frame without perspective 

touching each other on the canvas 
make up the picture: 

the cranky violet 

like a knight in chess, 

the cinque-foil, 

yellow faced — 

this is a French 

or Flemish tapestry — 
the sweetsmelling primrose 

growing close to the ground, that poets 
have made famous in England, 
I cannot tell it all: 

slippered flowers 

crimson and white, 

balanced to hang 
on slender bracts, cups evenly arranged upon a stern, 
foxglove, the eglantine 
or wild rose, 
pink as a lady's ear lobe when it shows 
beneath the hair, 

campanella, blue and purple tufts 
small as forget-me-not among the leaves. 

Yellow centers, crimson petals 
and the reverse, 
dandelion, love-in-a-mist, 
cornflowers, 

thistle and others 
the names and perfumes I do not know. 

The woods are rilled with holly 
(I have told you, this 
is a fiction, pay attention), 

the yellow flag of the French fields is here 
and a congeries of other flowers 



236 



as well: daffodils 

and gentian, the daisy, columbine 



myrtle, dark and light 

and calendulas 



The locust tree in the morning breeze 
outside her window 

where one branch moves 

quietly 

undulating 

upward and about and 

back and forth 

does not remind me more 

than of an old woman's smile 

— a fragment of the tapestry 

preserved on an end wall 

presents a -young woman 
with rounded brow 
lost in the woods (or hiding) 
announced 

(that is, the presentation) 
by the blowing of a hunter's horn where he stands 
all but completely hid 

in the leaves. She 
interests me by her singularity, 
her courtly dress 

among the leaves, listening! 

The expression of her face, 

where she stands removed from the others 

— the virgin and the whore, 

an identity, 

both for sale 



to the highest bidder! 

and who bids higher 

than a lover? Come 
out of it if you call yourself a woman. 

I give you instead, a young man 

sharing the female world 

in Hell's despight, graciously 

— once on a time 

on a time: 

Caw! Caw! Caw! 
the crows cry! 

In February! in February they begin it. 
She did not want to live to be 

an old woman to wear a china doorknob 
in her vagina to hold her womb up — but 

she came to that, resourceful, what? 
He was the first to turn her up 

and never left her till he left her - 
with chUd, as any soldier would 

until the camp broke up. 

She maybe was "tagged" as Osamu 
Dazai and his saintly sister 

would have it 

She was old when she saw her grandson: 
You young people 

think you know everything. 



She spoke in her Cockney accent 
and paused 

looking at me hard: 
The past is for those that lived in the past. Cessa! 

— learning with age to sleep my life away: 
saying ; 

The measure intervenes, to measure is all we know, 
a choice among the measures 
the measured dance 

"unless the scent of a rose 

startle us anew" 

Equally laughable 

is to assume to know nothing, a 
chess game 
massively, "materially," compounded! 

Yo ho! taho! 

We know nothing and can know nothing 

but 

the dance, to dance to a measure 
contrapuntally, 

Satyrically, the tragic foot. 



239 



Appendix 
Book Six 



These fragments of a projected sixth part of Fater- 
son were found among Dr. Williams' papers after 
his death. 



Jan. 4/ 61 Paterson 6 



The intimate name you were known as 
to your intimates in that realm* was The Genius, before 
your enemies got hold of you 

you knew the Falls and read Greek fluently 

It did not stop the bullet that killed you — close after dawn 

at Weehawken that September dawn 

— you wanted to organize the country so that we should all 
stick together and make a little money 

a rich man 

John Jay, James Madison . let's read about it! 

Words are the burden of poems, poems are made of 
words \ * 

* realm? Original typescript reads "reaks." 



243 



i/ 8/ 6i 



the dandelion — lion's tooth- in effigy 

of faience, old Hudson River work, might as 

well have been of Paterson 

a crude cheap jar made to contain 
pickled peaches or elder berries 

casually with all the art of domestic 
husbandry or the kitchen shelf 
a royal blue curving 

on itself to make a simple flower design 

to decorate my bedroom wall 

come out of itself to be an abstract design without design 

to be anything but itself for a Chinese poet who 

drowned embracing the reflection of the moon in the river 

— or the image of a frosty elm outlined in gayest 
of all pantomimes 

Dance, dance! loosen your limbs from that art which holds you 
faster than the drugs which hold you faster— dandelion on 
my bedroom wall. 



^244 



7/ i/ &i 



As Weehawken is to Hamilton 
is to Provence we'll say, he hated it 
of which he knew nothing and cared less 
and used it in his schemes — so 
founding the country which was to 
increase to be the wonder of the world 
in its day 

which was to exceed his London on which he patterned it 

(A key figuYe in the development) 

If any one is important more important that the 
edge of a knife [= point of a dagger =] * a poem is: or an 
irrelevance in the life of a people: see Dada or the murders of 
a Stalin 

or a Li Po 

or an obscure Montezuma 

or a forgotten Socrates or Aristotle before the destruction of 
the Library of Alexandria (as noted derisively by Bernard 
Shaw) by fire in which the poems of Sappho were lost 

and brings us (Alex was born out of wedlock) 

illegitimately perversion righted through that alone 
does not make a poet or a statesman 

—Washington was a six foot four man with a weak voice and 
a slow mind which made it inconvenient for him to move fast 
— and so he stayed. He had a will bred in the slow woods so 
that when he moved the world moved out of his way. 

* Typed in above the line over "edge of a knife." 



245 



Lucy had a womb 

like every other woman 

her father sold her 

so she told me 

to Charlie 

for 3 hundred dollars 

she couldn't read or write 

fresh out of 

the old country 

she hadn't had her changes yet 
I delivered her 

of 13 children 

before she came around 

she was vulgar 
but fiercely loyal to me 

she had a friend 

Mrs. Carmody 

an Irish woman 

who could tell a story 

when she'd a bit taken 



246 



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ne of the masterpieces of modern American 
literature, William Carlos Williams s long poem 
Peterson, originally published in five separate 
books between 1946 and 1958. is now pub- 
lished in Penguin, 



^^■Dr Williams stated the argument of Paterson, 
™ ^which is his personal testamentthus^that a man 
in himself is a city, beginning, seeking, achieving and con- 
cluding his life in ways which the various aspects of a 
city may embody/ Paterson is both a place — the New 
Jersey city near which Williams lived - and a man: the 
symbolic figure in whom the personal (the poet s own life) 
and the public (the history of the region) are combined. 

In its structure Paterson 'follows the course of the Passaic 
River, whose life seemed more and more to resemble my 
own : the river above the Falls, the catastrophe of the Falls 
itself, the river below the Falls and the entrance at the end 
i nto the great sea," Book 5 affirms the triumphant life of the 
imagination, in despite of age and death. 

The cover shows an anonymous engraving ol the Passaic Fails 
(photo: Bettmann Archive) 
Coyer design by Ken Leeder 



U.K. £2.95 

AIICT £K flE 



Poetry 
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